Pan and Fork landlord says trailer park isn’t moneymaker
The nonprofit organization that teamed with the town of Basalt to buy the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park in 2011 isn’t making a profit from rent revenue, executive director Colin Laird said Wednesday.
The Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. is plowing all of the revenue from space rents back into operating expenses such as water, sanitation and trash, administrative fees, repairs and maintenance, and debt service, Laird said.
At a meeting with Basalt officials Tuesday night, some residents of the trailer park questioned where the revenue is going. They said they were told shortly after the Community Development Corp. bought the property in 2011 that profits would be used to acquire different land where the residents could relocate. The Community Development Corp.’s plan didn’t progress far enough for any profits to emerge from rents or sale of the property, Laird said. The town of Basalt changed the plan and started working on relocating residents.
“The question from the residents is a fair one — where did the money go?” Laird said. “No one is making a profit off the trailer park.”
Debt service is the biggest expense. The Community Development Corp. pays two lenders about $11,500 per month in interest payments, according to Laird. It doesn’t receive any funds beyond what it needs to pay off the loans. The nonprofit organization doesn’t collect a fee for managing the park, nor does any of the revenue pay Laird’s salary, he said. The Garfield County Housing Authority received $19,800 in administrative fees in 2012, its accounting shows. Laird said that is a small price to pay — significantly lower than what a free-market property manager would receive.
The Community Development Corp. and Basalt bought the mobile-home park in August 2011. Basalt plans to convert its half of the site into a riverside park. The Community Development Corp. is mulling development options. Part of the plan was to relocate the residents because the mobile-home park is in the floodplain.
Meanwhile, they hired the Garfield County Housing Authority to manage the park. The housing authority was already contracted by Basalt to manage its affordable-housing program.
The Community Development Corp. spent $35,854.83 on repairs in 2012 to keep the mobile-home park functional. It only makes repairs that affect life and safety issues, he said. Money won’t be spent on paving roads, for example, because the trailer park is being closed and the residents are being relocated.
“To spend a lot of money fixing it didn’t make a lot of sense,” Laird said.
The total expense for the mobile-home park in 2012, including the lump-sum payment to the Community Development Corp. to pay its loans, was $240,707.10, according to the Garfield County Housing Authority’s revenue and expense report. The Aspen Times obtained the report from the town of Basalt.
That left a fund balance of $36,092.90. Any annual profit such as that remains in the bank account that the Garfield County Housing Authority maintains for the Community Development Corp., Laird said.
Laird noted that the previous owner of the mobile-home park raised rents from $650 to $700 per month prior to the sale going through. The Community Development Corp. lowered them back to $650.
Meanwhile, the Community Development Corp. revenue stream is shrinking. Of the 38 spaces, 35 were occupied. Two of those were removed after the owners reached relocation settlement packages with Basalt. Another three trailers will be moved shortly, and another three are close to being ready for removal. Another five trailers are empty, according to Town Manager Mike Scanlon.
That requires relocation packages to be worked out with 22 trailers.
To offset the loss of revenue as trailers are vacated, the town paid the Community Development Corp. $50,000 for a temporary construction easement needed to make improvements that will ease the flood threat on the site.
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Basalt town government officials feared the worse when the coronavirus struck and soured the economy. They figured the town coffers would suffer a huge blow. Instead, sales tax collections have surged above the amount at this time last year.