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Dolores forms task force on affordable housing

The town of Dolores has created an affordable housing task force. (Journal file)
The town will donate two lots on 19th Street for project

The town of Dolores is moving forward with plans for an affordable housing project.

The town is prepared to donate two vacant lots and has a budget of $30,000 to hire a consultant and developer to build the homes. The funding comes from a $20,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and $10,000 from the town.

A 10-person Dolores Housing Task Force was appointed to address the affordable housing issue.

The board includes Dolores Mayor Leigh Reeves, Board Trustee Sheila Wheeler, Planning Board member Dan Heeney, Planning Board member Melissa Waters, Dolores School Superintendent Reece Blincoe, Dolores State Bank Vice President Larry Engle, Region 9 Economic Development Project Manager Shak Powers, Lainey Beyhan, Jen Stark and Kirk Swope.

The group will meet twice a month. The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Town Hall.

A request for qualifications to hire a consultant and a developer has been posted. The Town Board and staff will review the applicants and award a contract in the coming weeks.

Town Manager Ken Charles said the goal is for the hired consultant and developer to conduct the planning and construction of the home on the two lots donated by the town, which are on 19th Street. The town will seek affordable housing grant funds to help finance the project.

It has not been determined whether the affordable homes will be rentals or sold to a person who qualifies for the program.

Many details need to be worked out, Charles said. The consultant and developer will work with the Town Board and task force on the details of the project, funding sources and way forward.

The homes would require the occupant or household to be employed locally and earn 80% to 120% of the medium income for Montezuma County, according to the preliminary plan.

For 2020, the medium annual income for an individual in the county was $26,557, according to the U.S. Census. The medium annual household income was $50,717.

For an individual to qualify for the affordable home, their income range would have to be between $21,245 and $31,868 annually.

For a household with more than one worker to qualify, the annual income range would be $40,500 to $60,800.

The home would have deed restrictions that prevent it from being sold for more than 3% of the value in order to keep it in the affordable housing range.

A town study showed there is a lack of affordable housing in Dolores for full-time workers making average incomes.

For example, an affordable home for a teacher in Dolores, who makes an average salary of $39,566 a year, would be about $217,000. But the median home sales price in Dolores in 2021 was $385,000.

In other news, the town made a public works purchase, reviewed water infrastructure needs, addressed a senior meal program funding shortage and announced the town’s new Facebook page.

Infrastructure needs

The Dolores Town Board approved the purchase of a 2002 International 7400 Vacuum/Jetter truck for $44,570. The truck is used to clear sewer lines and for other purposes. The town had been sharing a vacuum truck with the town of Mancos. The truck is in need of repairs estimated at $15,000 to $20,000. Dolores town staff determined purchasing its own truck is a better investment. The existing truck was returned to Mancos.

A project upgrading the town’s water lines showed low water pressure situations, including at some fire hydrants. SGM Engineer discussed installing a second water tank in the town to improve flows and create redundancy. The smaller water lines would need to be replaced. The estimated project cost is $3.2 million. A location for the second water tank has not been determined. The current water tank has a capacity of 300,000 gallons.

Senior meal program

The town learned that the state Area Agency on Aging cut funding for the senior meal program.

Montezuma County operates meal sites in Dolores, Mancos and Cortez through the program. Dolores contributes $2,500 annually to the Dolores senior program. AAA informed the county July 1 that the fiscal budget was cut to $99,000 down from $176,000, according to Dolores Town Manager Ken Charles.

Officials said there is enough funding to carry the programs through 2022, but beyond that could be a challenge. The town is working with Mancos to find funding that will keep Dolores and Mancos senior meal sites open. It is suggested that the two towns support the meals program by each funding 50% of the budget shortage. The town’s obligation to funding the shortage would be $12,000, and the amount was approved by the board. The town could use funds for the shortfall from the American Recovery Act.

New Facebook page

The town of Dolores recently launched a Facebook page to present community information along with its website. Meetings are broadcast live on the town YouTube channel and are archived for convenient viewing.