SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority joint powers board moved forward on its discussions about partnering with the city of Sheridan on a housing needs assessment during a special meeting Tuesday, but chose to delay action to await more information.
SEEDA tabled a vote on participating in the housing initiative during a meeting last month to monitor the city’s efforts to facilitate the creation of more local housing options.
During its Feb. 4 meeting, Sheridan City Council approved a contract with Cascadia Partners to conduct an audit of the city’s building codes in the hope that revising those regulations will reduce some of the fixed costs associated with home building.
Sheridan Community Development Director Brian Craig said the Cascadia consultants will be in Sheridan from March 13 to 15 to conduct interviews with members of the local building community. Based on their meetings in Sheridan, the consultants will prepare draft proposals suggesting changes to the city’s building codes, which Craig said he expects to be delivered in May.
Craig said the city has also begun drafting a request for proposals on the housing needs assessment, which would compile an inventory of current housing options in Sheridan and pinpoint the types of housing and housing price points in the greatest demand.
That assessment would require SEEDA’s involvement, however, and Craig said staff is looking for more guidance from SEEDA and the city’s elected officials on how that RFP should be structured.
SEEDA Treasurer Gary Koltiska remained skeptical that either the code audit or the housing needs assessment will have the desired effects. He noted that the code audit will produce a list of suggestions, which Sheridan’s city council could ultimately reject.
“Until I see results, I’m never going to be on board with it until I can see where it’s going to benefit SEEDA and the college and the general people working in the town of Sheridan, or surrounding Sheridan,” Koltiska said.
Richard Bridger, one of Sheridan city council’s representatives on the SEEDA board, said he was in support of the needs assessment, and argued it would provide the benefits Koltiska is looking for.
“The bottom line is, if you can find some way to proceed to make some sort of diversity in housing you create that opportunity for people to move in — if people work at the college and they can’t find some place to live or can’t find some place they can afford, that makes it that much tougher for employers like the college to find suitable help,” Bridger said. “I think (the assessment) is a possible avenue that could prove to be a benefit.”
Northern Wyoming Community College District President and SEEDA Chair Dr. Paul Young asked if the city staff could provide SEEDA with either preliminary results from the code audit that would demonstrably reduce building costs or point to other communities where code revisions have succeeded in reducing building costs.
SEEDA’s next meeting is scheduled for March 26, but Young said the board will have another special meeting before then.
City staff will present a draft of the housing needs assessment RFP at that meeting.
Young announced the board is nominating Tongue River Valley Community Center Executive Director Erin Kilbride to fill the open at-large seat on SEEDA’s board.
Kilbride’s nomination will need to be approved by Sheridan City Council and the NWCCD Board.