Wasatch County Deals With Affordable Housing, Remodels During 2019

Wasatch County, like Summit County, is concerned about providing affordable housing for its workforce.

Setting up a new program to enable home ownership for employees is one of the tasks that the Wasatch County Council took on in 2019.

KPCW talked with Assistant Wasatch County Manager Dustin Graybau.

Graybau has been Assistant County Manager for about eight months. Before that, he worked for Provo City for six years, including a stint as budget officer.

He told KPCW that Wasatch County is fortunate because growth allows them to fund some major projects.

One of those, the Employer Assistance Housing Program, aims to find housing locally for  Heber Valley’s essential workers, such as teachers, First Responders and government workers.

“What we’re looking at is called a Shared Appreciation Mortgage.  What that means is that the county would become a co-owner in a home, and would have a silent second position on it.  So we would put money into a home and own a percentage of that home.  Say it’s 10 percent.  What that means is the employee only has to pay for 90 percent of the house.  The county owns 10 percent.  And in the event that the house gets sold or refinanced, the county owns 10 percent of the equity as well.  So it’s a win-win is what we view it as.  We’re able to help employees purchase homes at lower prices than they might not be otherwise able to do, and the county has a return on that investment as well, through that appreciated mortgage value.”

Graybau said that to start with, the program is focusing on sheriff department employees.   And they’re helping out that department in other ways too

“We’ve done a number of adjustments in the sheriff’s office to increase the competitive compensation that we’re doing.  One is just a straight-up wage adjustment to more closely match what local public-safety professionals are getting.  We also have a few other programs that we’re adding, including shift differential, holiday pay, educational merit increases, Spanish fluency and a tuition reimbursement program.”

Elsewhere, the county has done significant remodels for the Council’s meeting room, the library and the sheriff’s offices.

“Our Council Chamber I think now is a very modern set-up where we’re able to do audio and visual recording displayed to the public and to the Council Members any audio-visual connections that we need to.   The Sheriff’s office is quite a nice upgrade of office spaces to be able to meet their needs and prepare for the future.    And the Library, we added a wing that added some public meeting space.  It’s a beautiful addition that matches perfectly to the previously-existing library.”

Assistant Wasatch County Manager Dustin Graybau.

Read the original story at KPCW.org