Aspen/Pitkin housing authority to pay for HOA studies
October 21, 2009
ASPEN – The Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority will spend $117,600 to pay for studies of all 56 homeowners’ associations within the affordable housing program to determine if they have enough capital reserve funds to cover future repairs and replacements in their buildings.
The Aspen City Council on Tuesday and the Pitkin County Commissioners earlier this month agreed to appropriate the expenditure out of APCHA’s surplus funds.
Officials said the impact on APCHA’s budget is minimal compared to the long-term benefit to the aging workforce housing inventory.
“When homeowners better understand and preserve the existing workforce housing asset as the fiduciary responsibility of each HOA, the pressure for government to rescue community housing assets that were not properly maintained is expected to be minimized going forward,” wrote APCHA Executive Director Tom McCabe in a memo to council.
Andrew Kole is a member of the Housing Frontiers Group, a citizen committee convened to assist with housing issues; he said he estimates that up to 90 percent of HOAs in APCHA’s inventory are under-funded.
The studies are designed to provide HOAs with an expert’s analysis of the physical status and replacement costs of common areas that HOAs are responsible to maintain. Separately, the expert will provide a financial analysis to evaluate the HOA’s reserve balances, income and expenses.
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The cost for each study is expected to range between $1,000 and $4,000, depending on the size and complexity of each HOA.
The entire project is expected to cost $168,000; 30 percent of each study will be paid for by individual HOAs, and 70 percent will be covered by APCHA.
The frontiers group is evaluating submissions made by qualified capital reserve professionals, and in the near future, they will make a recommendation to APCHA on who should be hired.
Pitkin County Commissioner Jack Hatfield voted against the expenditure, saying that it’s the responsibility of homeowners and their HOAs to know how much money to set aside for the upkeep of their properties.
“How far should government go?” he said about local taxpayer dollars funding private enterprises.
Mayor Mick Ireland said Aspen and Pitkin County have a financial interest in making sure all housing units are up to standard because APCHA holds the deed restrictions on them.
Aspen resident Jay Maytin said he was concerned that the study will be a waste of time and money if the results aren’t followed up on. He envisioned many HOAs not having the financial means to act on the findings of their studies or there won’t be requirements placed upon them to do so.
Government officials said they intend to make sure the recommendations are acted on and that the resale of the units will be driven by whether or not they were.
Councilman Steve Skadron asked McCabe whether there is something inherent in the affordable housing program that suggests owners aren’t equipped to handle complex issues like HOA capital reserves.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of intelligence,” but a lack of knowledge and education, McCabe responded.