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Homeowners want to recover full costs of upgrades

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Owners of employee housing in Snowmass Village will have to wait to find out whether energy-saving improvements that they receive a rebates for can be added to the resale values of their homes.

The Snowmass Village Town Council in April approved an amendment to the housing guidelines allowing homeowners to recover the cost of energy- and water-conserving improvements, up to 10 percent of the house’s value, on resale. However, at that time the council did not consider grants or rebates in that discussion, and it wasn’t ready to clarify that in the guidelines at its July 15 meeting.

A group of Creekside homeowners, represented by owner Gail Wheeler, wrote a letter to the council on July 9 requesting clarification on the amendment. Owners of 21 of the 27 units are currently replacing and upgrading doors and windows, for which they can apply to receive a rebate from either the Community Office of Resource Efficiency or Holy Cross Energy.

“We feel the amount received from an outside agency as a rebate for energy-saving improvements should not be deducted from the resale price of our Creekside units,” Wheeler said. “Almost any energy improvement will have some sort of rebate allowed with it through either CORE or Holy Cross, but a rebate is not guaranteed and must be applied for after completion of an improvement project before it is received.”

Housing Director Joe Coffey did not think adding an energy rebate or grant amount onto a house’s resale price would be fair to future buyers.

“The deed-restricted sales guidelines are in place to control the resale price of the deed-restricted properties,” he wrote in a memo to the council.

“I think we went a long ways in helping … by allowing you to recoup out-of-pocket expenses,” Councilman Fred Kucker said. “But when you’re getting money back because you made these improvements, … it goes in the face of how subsidized housing should work.”

Councilman Chris Jacobson pointed out that the town does want to motivate owners to make improvements. Councilman Jason Haber said allowing owners to recover the full cost of an improvement doubles the value of a rebate, which makes the incentive more powerful, but it does damage the affordability of the housing.

“I think it’s important that we incentivize people going out and getting these grants,” Jacobson said. “And at the same time, I think there’s caution about taking money from one pod and putting it in another and allowing a private individual to get the benefit of that.”

“I don’t think we should double incentivize (owners), for the major reason that it adversely affects the next buyer,” Kucker said. “For subsidized housing, I think we have to worry about the next buyer.”

Jacobson suggested allowing owners to recover a portion of a rebated improvement. Mayor Bill Boineau also liked that idea, although he said that might be “tricky.”

“I could probably land there,” Councilwoman Markey Butler said. “I need more analytical work done on it.”

Haber said he was leaning in that direction, too, and maybe the amendment should specify that the allowed percentage of the rebate could not “exceed a certain percentage of the home value.”

Wheeler and the other owners had to move forward with their improvements before the meeting in order to complete them by Sept. 1.

“We’re not waiting, but we did have one homeowner back out because it was not clear,” Wheeler said. “The decision time for homeowners has already come and gone.”

Wheeler told the council how much her utilities bill goes up in the winter because the doors and windows are not sealed tight.

“In terms of affordability, you’re helping out future owners with that, as well,” Haber said.

The council requested that Coffey come back with more information, specifically the dollar amounts of rebates, improvements and home prices, on the topic by the Aug. 19 regular meeting.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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