Teton County residents will vote in May whether to approve $70 million in revenue collected from a Special Purpose Excise Tax, or SPET. The tax would fund local infrastructure projects, including three housing developments meant to accommodate Jackson’s far-flung workforce. Two of the projects would provide housing for seasonal town and county employees.
The town’s housing trust is also building 26 low-income units for anyone in the community who qualifies. That project will be funded through public subsidies, private donations, and a loan the trust plans to pay back with rental earnings. Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust Director Anne Cresswell said that the local government promised to help regardless of the SPET, because waiting for the tax vote would have increased costs.
“We would have then been faced with significant additional expense with winter conditions; we would have had interest rate risk, so the elected officials really guaranteed that this essential project would have the funding it needed to get in the ground in the most time and cost effective way,” Cresswell said.
Still, Cresswell said, if voters do not approve the SPET, the town and county will be short the $4 million necessary to build more housing projects in the future. When it comes to housing, she said the town doesn’t have any time to waste.
“This is a problem that worsens with time, unfortunately,” Cresswell said. “Right now we’re experiencing the lowest inventory we’ve seen in thirty years, and the cheapest price of a single family home right now on the market is $859,000.”
Cresswell added that this year’s rough winter made it clear that Jackson’s schools, hospital, and sheriff’s department need employees to live nearby.