Aspen worker housing HOAs may get advice on capital reserves |

Aspen worker housing HOAs may get advice on capital reserves

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The homeowners’ associations that govern employee housing complexes in Aspen and Pitkin County may get some outside help in figuring out how much they should be collecting in dues and saving up to handle repairs and replacement of things like roofs, boilers and other common elements.

But how much money the homeowners themselves should pony up to pay for the professional advice was a matter of debate Tuesday among the Pitkin County commissioners.

The proposal before the county estimated the cost of having “capital reserve studies” done for each of 42 homeowners’ associations at $126,000, with the county and the city of Aspen each kicking in $37,800, the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority paying $25,200 out of its own funds, and employee homeowners themselves paying the remainder – at $30 per housing unit.

Commissioner George Newman questioned why local governments should shoulder the lion’s share of the cost, and Commissioner Jack Hatfield flatly rejected the county’s financial participation.

“I’m not in any way, shape or form going to support any amount of money from Pitkin County for this,” Hatfield said. “It’s absolutely wrong.”

Other citizens, who don’t live in worker housing, have to figure out things like the need for a capital reserve fund and how big a savings account they need without the help of government-funded professional assistance, he noted.

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“It looks like failure to take care of your own affairs,” Hatfield said.

On the other hand, his colleagues argued, making sure capital maintenance at the complexes occurs is in the government’s best interest, since the housing is an asset built with significant government subsidy.

“We’re doing a little hand-holding here and yes, it’s costing us a little time and money, but I think it’s a good investment,” said Housing Director Tom McCabe.

“Yes, it is important to protect our investment,” Newman agreed, but he called for homeowners to “step up to the plate” at a higher level than $30 per unit.

And, commissioners called for an expansion of the studies to include single-family home developments that are deed-restricted for local workers, including several trailer parks. The original proposal targeted complexes comprised of multifamily buildings.

Commissioner Patti Clapper said she wanted assurance that none of the money went toward a capital reserve study for free-market units. Some complexes are a mix of free-market and deed-restricted residences.

The proposal has not yet gone to the City Council, but after Tuesday’s session, the Housing Frontiers Group, which proposed the expenditure, reconvened and agreed to look at both expanding the studies to more properties and increasing the contribution from homeowners.

A request for quotes from firms that could potentially do the work has been issued and responses are due back on Sept. 21, said Cindy Christensen, housing operations manager. Those quotes may give the Housing Frontiers Group, an advisory committee to the housing authority, a better idea of the true cost of the work.

Homeowners’ associations can’t be required to participate, according to Christensen, but they may find it in their best interests to do so. A new state law requires all condo associations that fall under the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act to develop a capital reserve policy.

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