The town discussion on a potential campsite for temporary laborers derailed before it ever got going. Councilman Jim Stanford appeared to be the only one interested in exploring the idea but he was not joined by his colleagues.
Don Frank said, “I have to ask the philosophical question: Is it the government’s job to house employees…or private businesses that should take the lead to house their own employees?”
Both Frank and Bob Lenz had no appetite for using the Home Ranch lot as a temporary camping site. They said that belongs to parking guests of downtown Jackson.
Mayor Sara Flitner, on the verge of tears, said she feels for the families currently living out of their cars or on the brink of being homeless.
“I’m disappointed. I’m a mom. The backseat of a car is nowhere for a family to live,” Flitner said. “I know our community is facing pressure, but I am going to encourage this council to focus on permanent, longterm solutions for the people who are cleaning our toilets, cleaning our schools, [etc]…”
Flitner called some solutions well-intentioned (“Like the father and son who put the baby bison in the back of their Tahoe,” she said) but without sensibility. The mayor said she was particularly dismayed by a call she received last night informing her that one family in the valley may be asking their 15-year-old daughter to drop out of high school so she can get a job and help the family make rent on their studio apartment.
Stanford blamed online social media discussions earlier today for derailing the discussion before it could even get going.
“It’s unfortunate that before we could even have this discussion there was an online ‘arms race’ that seeks to distort this issue,” Stanford said.
He added that he was willing to “take the bullet on this” if that’s what it took to “show a little bit of compassion for folks being squeezed right now.”
The council decided to take no further action on the possibility of temporary camping facilities within town limits but did agree to let Stanford explore potential options with county leaders on possible suitable sites for temporary housing.
The town council has decided they will wait no longer. They will not wait on whether or not a Housing Authority ever reshapes into anything trustworthy. They will not wait to see if voters will decide to tax themselves so government can build subsidized housing for the less fortunate in JH which includes (by the mayor’s definition) $500,000 homes for lawyers who make a million dollars a year.
The town council has already forked over $1.65 million to the Housing Trust for the workforce rental project slated for Redmond and Hall. Town leaders said they could scrape up another $2 million from the budget. The Trust said thanks, but that’s still not enough. They want a total of $6 million from the town and/or county by next summer before they will begin construction on what Mayor Sara Flitner called a “top priority” project.
At a budgeted $12 million, total, the 27 units would work out to a subsidized $444,444 each.
“Mayor Flitnor I’d like to remind you this is the USA and not france and not socialism—The government has no business in the housing industry– a couple of points— If the politicos where serious about solving the housing shortage they would remove much regulation– they would allow trailer parks so Juan- Jane and Jerry could buy there own homes- have pride in ownership and some skin in the tax paying game– I promise you this—you are running folks out by raising taxes to cover others housing– It is not my responsibility as a tax payer to help the resorts and tomahawk shops have employees— cut regulation so they build their own employee housing. Your bed tax is working your driving more people here and not using the money for the services needed. If you raise my sales tax— I wont buy anything but groceries and when our defunct legislators put a food tax on I will commute to purchase it— Your like a bunch of pick pocketing horse thieves stealing tax dollars to create housing that devalues my home– Not one more penny of my tax dollar to house ANYONE– The resorts can block out rooms for their employees but your not going to reach into my pocket to help them attain high profits! In matter of a few weeks utilities could be laid for mobile homes– easily several hundred spots could be open for people fill- the problem is you think these ugly poorly constructed homes your putting up are superior to modern mobil homes— and your wrong.”
Our electeds officially formed a new regional housing authority to be run jointly by the town and county. Community opposition ran the gamut from staunch opposition to subsidized housing to skepticism about how the housing authority has operated to date.
Commissioner Mark Newcomb and councilor Bob Lenz were not on board with the vote. They both questioned why government wanted to be so involved with housing people.
One quote that jumped out at us came from Mayor Sara Flitner. While many in the audience and many in the valley—IF they were inclined to accept government playing a role in subsidized housing—believe affordable housing should be tailored to the truly needy and low-income members of our community, Flitner said this:
“…I’m more concerned about highly paid people like teachers and an attorney I know who can’t afford a home here. Right now, even a $100,000 salary and a bottomless work ethic can’t guarantee you a roof over your head in this community.”
Do you want to tax yourself to pay for a lawyer’s house in Jackson?
Town and county leaders also voted to ask you for $6 million to fix the Budge landslide. This, despite public comment in opposition and polls showing a majority of taxpayers don’t like the idea of having to bail out Walgreens and the town’s poor decision to allow the major pharmacy chain to carve into an unstable hillside.
“Who signed off on this?” asked concerned citizen Pam Walton at the meeting.