Aspen sets up fund to house city government workers |

Aspen sets up fund to house city government workers

ASPEN – The city of Aspen is pooling money from each department in an effort to house more of its employees in government-owned apartments.

The 505 fund was established last year and every department within City Hall contributed, totaling about $1 million, according to City Finance Director Don Taylor. Of that amount, the general fund contributed about $529,000.

Another $1 million was added to the fund last year from the city’s parks, the Wheeler Opera House, and water and electric enterprises.

In 2009, contributions were scaled back as a result of a failing economy. About $735,000 was contributed, with $200,000 coming directly out of the general fund.

It’s proposed that $558,000 be contributed from the 2010 budget. Taylor said.

The bulk of the money will be spent on building five units at the Aspen Airport Business Center, which will be dedicated for city workers, said Scott Miller, the city’s capital assets manager.

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There will be four one-bedroom units and a studio. It hasn’t been decided whether they will be rental or for-sale units. If they are sold to city workers, those employees would sell the units back to the city when they move. The development will be where the former animal shelter was located.

The project has been given the green light by the Aspen City Council and it went out for a design bid last year. But the council felt at the time that the price was too steep as proposed and asked the developer and architect, Willis Pember, to find some savings.

“We got a favorable price partly because of how the economy is,” Miller said, adding the project will be finalized this fall through Pitkin County and the units will likely be built in the spring.

Miller said city officials are finalizing the details.

“We’re about ready to go to council with it,” Miller said of the estimated $2.4 million project.

Taylor said some money already has been spent for the project’s initial design. The end-of-the-year balance for the 505 fund is forecasted to be $2.1 million.

It’s projected that the fund will have about $1.3 million in it by the end of 2010.

Contributions are programmed to be cut in half for the 2011 budget and Taylor said it’s hoped that the city can go back to a full-scale subsidy by 2012.

During its annual retreat, the council earlier this summer stated that housing city workers was a top goal for the year.

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