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COUNCIL CHRONICLES 8.9.13
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Yogi Berra said that, right? Or was it Abe Tabatabai?
Tabatabai tried to throw a stick in the spokes of the shiny, new $1.65 million “bicycle” the town bought for the Housing Trust. The former councilman asked the esteemed panel to reconsider their magnanimous gift to the Trust even though he was reluctant to go into exactly why out of deference, he said, to Monday Night Football fans eager to beat it out of the chambers before the Jets fell too far behind, and because, with Don Frank missing, he feared a 2-2 deadlock. He wouldn’t even get that far.
Mayor Mark Barron buoyed Tabatabai’s spirits briefly when he pulled last meeting’s minutes but it was only to make sure the record showed he and Bob Lenz originally wanted to hand over only half a million, not triple that.
Still, the Housing Trust wasn’t exactly counting the money yet. Bob McLaurin was back in the saddle and the council had to explain to him how they traded his milk cow recommendation for a bunch of magic beans. Actually, it was McLaurin doing the talking, illustrating how the town needed to be delicate with the revolving first right of rental or purchase on six units from the Trust. There was current consideration and future consideration to consider.
Brenda Wylie, attorney for the Housing Trust, briefed the town on what she and Audrey Cohen-Davis were hammering out for an agreement. Rentals required a little extra care and tweaking, Wylie said, as opposed to the town’s previous 2008 agreement with the Trust that included a “Go Directly to the Head of the Line” option for six rights to purchase affordable housing.
For instance, there would probably have to be a max rental period of one or two or three years so some plow driver didn’t just squat in an apartment for a decade clogging up one of the town’s revolving rights.
The council listened intently but still weren’t sure what their $1.65 million had bought them. It was so complicated, Lenz wanted to know if he could stick a rider in there that said the town would just sell the land back to the Trust and be rid of it should the Trust ever come across the money. “We would land bank for them until they could pay us back,” he offered.
“That cow’s out of the barn!” the mayor exclaimed.
“We might be overthinking this,” Stanford reasoned. “It may not be as complicated as we are making it.”
“It’s complicated, but we can work through it,” Cohen-Davis responded.
After kicking around the idea of a non-performance clause and a buy-back option, Wylie spoke up. “I am uncomfortable with that concept; of adding this second layer. We would be burdening all 102 affordable homes with this agreement. Let’s just keep it simple.”
Wylie pointed out that Fannie Mae financing would get messy if too many layers of restrictions, clauses and triggers hamstrung the rental project.
McLaurin helped move things along by saying he was in favor of the agreement because not every town employee wanted to own a home and the rental option provided needed flexibility. He also had sketched out a finance plan that would leave the hallowed water/sewer fund untapped.
Hailey Morton summed up the 30-minute discussion that led into a unanimous vote to have Wylie and Cohen-Davis hash it out somehow. “We’ll figure it out,” she said, curtly.
The council also voted in favor of entering into a memorandum of understanding with, well, no one at the moment. The plan is to partner up with Grand Teton National Park on their impact study for the Moose-Wilson Road. With the road currently closed and most park employees furloughed, the deal seemed the very definition of “all hat and no cattle.”
“It sort of memorializes a working relationship should they ever open it again,” McLaurin said of the Moose Road MOU. “A lot of this is warm and fuzzy.”
“It gives us a place at the table,” Lenz said.
Cohen-Davis, busy with the Housing Trust arrangement, asked the council for the second time that night to approve on the condition that she have time to look it over and make sure the feds didn’t stick something in there about balancing the nation’s budget on McLaurin’s precious water/sewer fund.