Energy rebates won’t count against affordable-housing owners in Snowmass
September 3, 2013
Grants and rebates won't affect the amount of money that owners of deed-restricted housing in Snowmass Village can recover upon selling their units, the Snowmass Village Town Council said on Aug. 19.
The council amended the town housing guidelines in April to allow homeowners to recover the cost of energy- and water-conserving improvements up to 10 percent of the property's value if they resell it. At that time, the officials didn't discuss whether incentives for energy improvements should be included in the resale amount, but after getting some more information, the officials clarified on Aug. 19 that the Housing Department would leave them out of the equation.
The department came to the council July 15 for clarification because a group of Creekside homeowners, represented by owner Gail Wheeler, were replacing doors and windows and applying for rebates on the improvements. At that time, the council wanted more information about how much money was available in grants and rebates and how that would affect home values for future buyers.
The owners have since received a window-replacement rebate of $1,750 on improvements that cost them $7,200, according to Housing Department Director Joe Coffey. The rebate is given only once. Coffey used the Daly Townhomes and the Crossings to give the council other examples of how cost recovery would affect town housing.
"After looking at this for a while, … I understand that these improvements need to be made and that these people should be encouraged to make these improvements as homeowners," Coffey said. "I'm willing to recommend the council include the grants and rebates. Now to what amount, I'll leave that up to you."
Coffey recommended allowing the funds to be included up to $6,000, which is the amount of a rebate available for a solar thermal system and the largest amount available currently.
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Town Attorney John Dresser said a cap could be "self-limiting."
"All these improvements are going to maintain and lengthen the life of the affordable housing inventory in town," Dresser said. "The best way to maintain … is to encourage homeowners to do it … in an environmental method, rather than the cheapest doors because 'I can't get any recovery on it.'"
Dresser also pointed out that a percentage was probably better because the amount of grants and rebates available could change over time.
"My experience in watching the rebates is that they really do fluctuate very frequently," said Councilman Jason Haber, who works for the Community Office of Resource Efficiency. "I wouldn't want to drive our policy around what is available today. I think we should come up with a formula that stands the test of time and works within a framework that we're comfortable with in terms of proportionately adjusting the value of the home, either relative to the value of the home or relative to the value of the improvements."
Haber suggested allowing grants and rebates to be included up to 20 percent of the 10 percent increase on home value.
"It also limits homeowners' ingenuity in getting the most they can possibly get," Dresser said.
Coffey discussed with the council the option of including incentives up to 50 percent of the cost of the improvements.
"Some people are going to tell you they have a grant," Coffey said. "Some people may not."
Haber asked how the city of Aspen handles grants and rebates.
"An improvement to them is an improvement, and they don't really worry about the grants or the rebate amounts," Coffey said.
Haber suggested following a similar procedure of allowing owners to recover the cost of improvements up to 10 percent of the home's value and not considering whether they also received incentives for the improvements.
"If we're comfortable with the 10 percent, then let's be comfortable with the 10 percent," Haber said.
Councilman Fred Kucker agreed.
"It's simple, it's fair for everyone, and it encourages people to make needed improvements," Kucker said.
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