Town News

Catch Up With Council, January 9, 2024 – Update on Town Grants, Resolution Adopting Town Financial Policies, 2024 Nonprofit Grant Presentation, and More

Summit Community CARE Clinic Update

Staff from the Summit Community Care Clinic met with Town Council during the Council’s work session, to provide an update on the services that they provide to Frisco and Summit County community members, as well residents from neighboring Counties. Summit County is designated as a medically underserved area by the Health Resources and Services Administration. A medically underserved population is a population of individuals within a geographic area that, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has either a high level of poverty, lack of primary care providers, a large elderly population, and/or high infant mortality rate. Summit County qualifies by having a lack of primary care providers and/or a high poverty rate.

The Summit Community Care Clinic has been serving Summit County and surrounding counties for over 30 years and provides health care services, regardless of ability to pay. 45% of the patients they see are uninsured and 31% rely on public assistance. The Summit Community Care Clinic relies heavily on grant funding and donations to help decrease the cost of services for patients. The main medical, dental, and behavioral health clinics are in the Summit County Medical Office Building in the Frisco area. The Summit Community Care Clinic also offers seven school-based health centers, that provide care to students while they are at school which removes significant barriers to healthcare for students.

Community Impact

The Summit Community Care Clinic employs 120 staff with nearly 50% of those employees speaking more than one language and enabling the Clinic to better serve patients who are not primarily English speakers. The Summit Community Care Clinic has also provided $5.1 million dollars in savings to Medicaid and $12.5 million in savings within the overall health system.

Council discussed the wealth disparity they are seeing at the clinic and how it relates to affordable housing in the community.

Town Grants Update

In March 2022, staff identified Michael Baker International as a grant services provider, to assist the Town with grant applications. Initially, Michael Baker International reviewed the Town’s plan documents, including the Strategic Plan, Comprehensive (Community) Plan, and a variety of master plan documents. After reviewing these documents, Michael Baker International met with Town staff to better understand the types of grants the town wanted to pursue, how proposed grants tie into plan documents, and staff experience with grant management. Town staff have continued to meet with Michael Baker International monthly or more often as needed. Additionally, in February 2023 a grant policy was adopted as a part of the comprehensive Financial Policies, to ensure compliance with Federal grant programs and accounting standards.

During the January 9 work session, staff along with Ted Heyt of Michael Baker International provided an update to Town Council on the grant opportunities identified by the Town’s Grants Work Group. This update included background on the Town’s Grant Services Program, as well as specifics on individual grant opportunities. Coinciding with the 2024 Budget process, the State of Colorado has experienced an unusual number of upcoming grant funding opportunities, in addition to Federal funding opportunities created by Congress to stimulate the economy. Many of these opportunities were described during the Town Council 2024 budget work session on September 12, 2023. During the 2024 budget process, staff evaluated and prioritized Town projects (capital & non-capital) against upcoming grant opportunities. For 2024, a total of 18 grant opportunities, totaling $7 million in grant funding, were outlined for Town Council during this work session.

Nonprofit Grants Award Presentation

This year Frisco received 71 applications total for the Micro/In-Kind Grant program and the new Community Impact Grant program requesting over $719,000 in grant funding for nonprofit projects and programs. Across the two grant programs, the Town of Frisco was able to grant a total of $186,000 in cash contributions and in-kind donations valued at $28,622 to 57 nonprofits. In addition to these two grant programs, the Town also supports community needs through its nicotine tax fund, which voters approved in 2019. The Town dedicates this fund not only to programs that reduce the use of nicotine but also to childcare and health and human service needs. Over $430,000 will be going to childcare tuition assistance, mental health support through Building Hope, medical and dental care through the Community Care Clinic, and social support services through the Family and Intercultural Resource Center. The Town’s general fund also provides over $160,000 in support of sustainability efforts, including funding for programs administered by High Country Conservation Center.

In 2022, the Town started a tradition of doing a grants award presentation video to highlight the grant process and the non-profits which provide vital services to Frisco and Summit County residents. This year SCTV staff and Frisco Communications Coordinator Jessica Dastous worked to put together the 2024 nonprofit grant award presentation video.

Senator Dylan Roberts Legislative Session Preview

Senator Roberts started with an update about housing legislation and emphasized that it was likely to be another big session for decision making around workforce housing and land use. Senator Roberts also discussed the special session that happened in November 2023, where the legislature passed laws which are intended to reduce property taxes in 2024 and which established the Colorado Commission on Property Tax; County Commissioner Tamara Pogue sits on this statewide commission to represent our mountain communities.

Senator Roberts highlighted bills that he anticipates will be proposed in the 2024 legislative session which would:

  • Require municipalities to do a housing assessment and then have the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) review and offer assistance around workforce housing planning and development; it is possible that the State would fund these assessments through their budget
  • Encourage accessory dwelling units while municipalities have local control over building and land use standards
  • Create a property tax rebate program for local government to encourage land uses that support the community; for example workforce housing and childcare facilities
  • Reform construction defect regulations
  • Reclass short term rentals from residential properties to commercial properties. Senator Roberts anticipates that this bill will see big changes from the sponsors before it is presented at the legislature again. Senator Roberts stated that he is opposed to the legislation in its current form and that he will be reviewing rewrite carefully.

Council discussed the STR bill, possible climate and transportation legislation, the tax rebate bill, and the housing assessment bill with Senator Roberts at more length.

Resolution Adopting the Town Financial Policies

In February 2023, the Town Council adopted Resolution 23-10, the Town’s first comprehensive financial policy that combined existing polices, formal and informal. These documents included an investment policy, budget policy, and cash handling policy.

The need for a comprehensive Financial Policies document has become more pressing in recent years, as related to the increase in grant funding available to the Town of Frisco. Many grant programs, particularly federal grants, require formal documentation of a wide range of financial policies. Also, comprehensive financial policies are central to a strategic, long-term approach to financial management.

After a year of using the adopted Financial Policies, staff reflected on the current policies and suggested revisions to take a more balanced approach to internal controls that still protect the Town from real world practicalities. Staff believes that the recommendations provided within the updated Financial Policies achieve this balance. Proposed changes to the prior version of the Town’s Financial Policies are described below and are located in the staff memo:

1. Cash Handling: Due to the nature of special events, including Concerts in the Park, certain aspects of the cash handling policy were impractical. For example, providing a receipt to every customer is not practical in a special event setting. After working at a special event and discussing changes as a leadership team, the Finance staff proposed changes. Additionally, the Finance team looked at how to reduce cash transactions across departments and has invested in additional technology to support remote, electronic payments where cash was previously commonplace. Staff expects that there will still be challenges with internet and cell connectivity in certain instances which could make accepting credit cards challenging, and these challenges will be addressed as they arise.

2. Grants: The policy previously stated that grants will only be budgeted once awarded. When creating the 2024 budget, staff recognized that this policy places an undue burden on Town resources. Therefore, staff recommend budgeting for grant revenue and expenditures levels expected from a grant award. If the grant is not awarded, the revenue and related expenditure appropriation can be revised. This allows for the Town to maximize projects within the capital plan and to reflect in grant applications that the expenditure has been appropriated within the budget.

Town Council passed Resolution 24-06 on the first reading.

Proposed Code Amendments to the Unified Development Code for Affordable Housing Incentives

In July 2023, the Town of Frisco entered a commitment with the State Affordable Housing Fund known as Proposition 123. Through this program, the Town has committed to providing 16 affordable housing units, at an average of five per year, over the next three years. The Affordable Housing Financing Fund is administered by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) and is overseen by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Frisco Town Code, Section 180-5.5 requires affordable housing units to be restricted for occupancy or for purchase to households earning up to a maximum 140% Area Median Income (AMI), or maximum 120% AMI for rental, with an average AMI not to exceed 100%. As the Town pursues affordable housing projects with lower AMIs that are not funded through the Lower Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), it is difficult to fill the gap funding to make the financial models work. This has led the Town to recognize that a slightly higher AMI for certain projects would allow the Town to be able to fund and move forward with development, meeting the goal of providing more housing units for locals.

In September 2023, it was announced that organizations applying for funding through the State Affordable Housing Fund may be eligible for policy flexibilities if their project is located in a municipality that is classified as a Rural Resort Community, which Frisco is. By filing a petition, these projects may serve households with higher incomes than would otherwise be allowed if the petition had not been filed and approved.

The proposed amendments to the Unified Development Code (UDC) are a reflection of the State allowing the Town of Frisco to petition for funding assistance at a higher AMI level. Petitions are based on individual projects, not Town wide. The proposed amendments include:

  1. Allowing the Community Development Director to approve an affordable housing project to have an average of 140% AMI as opposed to an average 100% AMI if she/he finds that the following criteria are met:
    • That granting the increase in AMI will meet a studied, and found, community need for rental and/or ownership; and
    • That the developer of the affordable housing project is applying for funding, and funding is ultimately received, which is administered by a recognized Colorado state agency or federal administrative department; and
    • That the Town will apply for petition, and approval is ultimately received, through the State Affordable Housing Fund to increase income limits for the project.

By approving these amendments, if a project is being petitioned to the State for a higher AMI through Proposition 123, this would allow the Town to also allow the project to qualify for the affordable housing incentives if the average AMI was 140%.

  • 180-5.5.B.b.: Removal of sale of bonus units being through the Summit Combined Housing Authority (SCHA). This modification is in response to the SCHA not having a real estate branch anymore.
  • 180-5.5.C.1.: Modification of the language stating that the entire property shall be applicable to the affordable housing regulations. Staff have had difficulty interpreting if this means that units within a mixed-use project do not qualify as it is not the entire property if commercial uses are proposed. Staff suggests stating “all residential dwelling units on the property” instead of “the entire property”.
  • 180-5.5.C.4.c.i.: Staff suggest reducing visitor parking spaces from one space for every five dwelling units to one space for every seven dwelling units. This modification would allow a reduction in required visitor parking spaces for affordable housing.

The Planning Commission reviewed the proposed modifications on December 7, 2023, and forwarded a recommendation to Town Council to not move forward with these proposed modifications. Specific points made by the Planning Commission included:

  1. The current rental rate for a 2-bedroom, 140% AMI unit is $3,493.00.
    • Commissioners noted that this rate is not reasonable for affordable housing and therefore the Town should not pursue 140% AMI rental units.
    • Commissioners requested that the Town consider separating incentives for rental units vs. ownership units.
  2. The decision to allow an affordable housing project to be designated at an average higher AMI should not be the Community Development Director’s decision.
    • The Planning Commission stated they should make this decision, not the Director.
  3. 140% AMI units should not receive a density bonus incentive.
    • Commissioners stated that they would like all proposed modifications removed from the bonus density section regarding affordable housing.
  4. Affordable Housing Incentives may not be appropriate for higher AMI projects.
    • Commissioners discussed whether parking reduction incentives would be appropriate for projects serving a middle-income AMI, given that residents at that level may be more likely to have cars than low-income residents.
    • Commissioners agreed that further discussion is needed to determine whether projects targeting 140% AMI average should be eligible to utilize the incentives outlined in Section 180-5.5: Affordable Housing.
  5. Allowing Town projects to be a higher average AMI does not set a good example for the community.
    • Commissioners expressed concern over only Town-sponsored projects qualifying for higher AMI, while developers would always be held to 100% AMI.

During the Council meeting, staff presented the proposed amendments to the UDC, reviewed the concerns from the Planning Commission, and sought feedback from Council regarding next steps. Council had a thoughtful discussion about who should decide about the AMI level on a project, what the ideal AMI level should be, how parking requirements should be handled, and how AMI requirements and bonus density should interact. Council directed staff to bring this back to a future work session for further discussion.

Frisco Town Council Meetings: Ways to Participate

Frisco Town Council meetings are available to view via Zoom and YouTube, and are also held in person to make Town Council meetings easier to access for everyone.

The public can provide comment during meetings via Zoom or in person (not YouTube), and a public comment period will be available at 7:00pm; during the consideration of ordinances; and at the discretion of Town Council during work session items, which are discussions that don’t require a formal vote by Town Council and do not require public comment. Again, this hybrid approach is intended to make Town Council meetings more accessible, and meeting recordings will typically also be made available the day after a meeting in the meeting archive with agenda topics bookmarked to the discussions in the video.