Want to serve on housing board? | AspenTimes.com

Want to serve on housing board?

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen and Pitkin County plan to appoint a new housing board, but it may look a lot like the old housing board.

The two governments recently adopted a new intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, that restructures the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority and the board that oversees the affordable housing program.

With the new agreement, the City Council and Board of County Commissioners agreed to appoint a new housing board, inviting existing members to reapply. Most members have indicated they hope to retain their seats on what will be a smaller board with redefined duties.

With the IGA, the city and county agreed to trim the nine-member housing board to five citizen members ? two appointed by the city, two by the county and one appointed jointly. A jointly selected alternate member will also be appointed.

The two elected officials who have served on the board ? currently Councilman Tim Semrau and Commissioner Shellie Roy ? will be dropped from its membership.

That leaves current appointees Jamie Knowlton and David Guthrie for the city; county representatives Keith Webster and Marcia Goshorn; joint appointee Steve Elliott; and Sheri Sanzone, who’s an alternate for the city (the county’s alternate position is unfilled). Those six members could make up the newly appointed board, or not.

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The city, at least, isn’t necessarily planning to clean house and appoint a new slate of housing board members, according to Mayor Helen Klanderud.

“I think our feeling was, since we had a new IGA, let’s reappoint the housing board, which doesn’t mean we aren’t going to appoint the same people,” she said.

All three current city appointees ? Knowlton, Guthrie and Sanzone ? said they plan to seek reappointment.

For the county, Goshorn said she does as well, but Webster said he probably won’t.

Webster has been among the most vocal critics of the change in the board’s role under the IGA.

Development of housing projects will not be among the narrowed scope of duties assigned to the streamlined housing board. The board has an advisory role on policy issues, but much of the decision-making power would rest with either the Housing Authority staff or elected officials.

“I’m not really thrilled with the changes that are going on. I’m thinking that I don’t want to be a board member anymore ? that’s my leaning,” Webster said. “Mostly because I don’t like the way we would basically become a rubber-stamp agency for the city housing program.”

Said Goshorn: “Yes, I am planning on reapplying. There is still a lot to accomplish. The City Council may have succeeded in partially neutralizing the housing board, but I still feel as strongly as ever that the public monies spent still need oversight on how they are spent. I also feel the board is the only avenue the man on the street has to vent problems.”

Elliott has reapplied as the joint appointee and said he supports the revamping of the board and the housing authority under the new IGA.

“There are those who resent what’s going on. I have never resented it,” he said. “The elected [officials] work for the public, and we work for the electeds. I’m very much in favor of what they’ve done to the IGA.”

The county has already begun advertising for board members, with a Nov. 13 deadline for applications. A couple of applications had been taken out by late last week.

The city is also expected to advertise its posts, allowing Aspenites who are interested in serving on the board to apply.

The housing board typically meets twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays, from 5 to 8 p.m.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]