Gym memberships may not work out for housing staff |

Gym memberships may not work out for housing staff

If the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority becomes a city department, the paid gym membership enjoyed by housing staffers may not survive the transition.

According to Patsy Malone, city human resources director, the only difference between the benefits package for city employees vs. housing office employees is a gym membership offered to housing staffers.

Within the city package is a $579 fitness/wellness stipend that can be used toward such expenditures as a ski pass or gym membership. Or, city employees have the option of taking a monetary equivalent every month.

Housing employees receive the same fitness/wellness stipend, but in addition are given the option of joining the Aspen Athletic Club – on the Housing Authority’s tab.

City Manager Amy Margerum hasn’t decided whether housing employees should be allowed to keep their gym benefit, or if the additional perk will be phased out to put them in line with other city workers.

But Margerum agreed with Malone that extending the extra gym benefit to the entire city staff after the Housing Authority becomes a city department is not an option.

“It’s not even in the realm of possibility,” Malone said. “We’re limited by budgetary constraints and adding that is simply not in the picture.”

When housing office staffers were first offered a gym membership last April, nine of the 11 housing employees took advantage of the opportunity. It would set the city back about $140,000 to pay the initiation fee and monthly dues at the Aspen Athletic Club for all 200 full-time city workers, Malone said.

The decision to tack on the additional gym perk for housing staffers was made by former housing director Dave Tolen, who could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Although the agreement that will make the Housing Authority a city department has not been signed, there is no opposition to the plan and the move appears imminent.

Under the proposed agreement, it would be the city manager and not the housing board or housing director who would make the call on the benefits, since it’s a personnel/administrative matter. And that’s just fine with new housing board Chairwoman Jackie Kasabach.

“We want to build more housing, not necessarily get bogged down dealing with this,” said Kasabach.

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