Housing board willing to fold agency into city
Housing board members unanimously agreed Wednesday that it makes sense for the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority to become a city department.
“As long as the board remains independent as a recommending body, I’m not too concerned about who cuts the checks,” said board member Mick Ireland, who is also a county commissioner.
Seeing the move as merely a shift in administrative responsibilities, board members characterized the organizational change as “a non-issue” and “a non-event” during a brief discussion last night.
Under the proposal, Housing Authority employees would become city employees and would adhere to the same personnel policies as other city workers. The housing director would report to the city manager.
Currently, the authority is an independent entity, though its operations are funded by the city. City and county officials agree it would be more efficient for the city to handle the housing office’s finances and personnel matters.
“From my perspective, this all makes sense,” said Tom McCabe, housing board and City Council member.
Housing board members insisted, however, that they retain veto power in the hiring of the agency’s executive director – a position that is currently vacant.
In addition, the board wants to retain independent legal counsel to address enforcement issues, housing complaints and other issues. Only contracts involving financial obligations by the city of Aspen will be reviewed by the city attorney, the board agreed.
To accomplish the move, an intergovernmental agreement between the city, county and Housing Authority must be amended.
City Attorney John Worcester has drafted an amended agreement. Board members asked yesterday that Housing Authority attorney Tom Smith review the document and make a recommendation before they take action.
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A recent survey of Aspen residents shows that people are happy here, feel safe but are financially insecure.