No anti-housing bias from task force

Dear Editor:

I am a member of the Housing Subcommittee (HS) of the Citizen Budget Task Force (CBTF). These are my thoughts and do not represent the HS. My goal is to produce the most quality housing units, at the lowest cost, as quickly as possible. I have never heard any contrary belief expressed by any HS member at any of our meetings. To read that the mayor has tagged our HS as anti-housing is absurd and shocking. I have been a supporter of Mick for longer than I can recall.

The additional adjective of sinister was used to portray our efforts. I feel as though I have been hit in the gut!

The CBTF was formed at Mick’s urging. Our charge was to review and advise the City Council on matters of city spending. One cannot advise without knowledge of how funds have been spent in the past. To our utter surprise, nobody at the city knew how much Burlingame phase one had cost. At our request, city staff gathered the numbers. The results are shocking. The HS suggested to the CBTF, and it approved, a recommendation for an independent cost review of Burlingame phase one.

As a result of the HS’s efforts, the citizens of Aspen now have some idea of the costs of Burlingame phase one. The numbers do not lie. The numbers have no bias. The numbers are not sinister. There is a saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” I suggest we analyze the costs and figure out ways to construct housing more efficiently. This should not be an emotional issue. If the costs are shocking and upsetting, don’t spin them as sinister and biased.

Here are my “CliffsNotes” on Burlingame costs: All monies spent that would not otherwise have been spent if it were not for Burlingame should be considered the cost of the project. All costs associated with purchase of land, design of the project, roads to the project, parking for and trails to the project, traffic lights at Highway 82, actual construction of the project, bus purchases because of the project, changes to the project ordered by City Council, legal fees, adjustments in category mix, single-family lot subsidies ” none of these monies would have been spent if it were not for Burlingame. Some argue that the cost of financing should also be included. I am not an accountant. I am not a financial expert. However, to me, these monies spent should be considered the cost of Burlingame. There is no spin to it. These are the costs.

Where do we go from here? First off, any marketing pieces must include all costs. Another saying, “Don’t flog a dead horse.” I have no interest in digging up the past of “the brochure.” That is not to suggest that exhuming should not be undertaken.

My goal remains the same: Build the most quality housing units, at the lowest cost, as quickly as possible, but not before knowing how to proceed efficiently.

Ward Hauenstein