APCHA

A sign outside the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority offices. Pitkin County commissioners advanced policy changes at a work session on Tuesday that would remake APCHA’s board of directors, seating it with Aspen City Council members and commissioners and giving the board final decision making authority on policy.

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners took another look at an updated management plan for the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) on Tuesday.

A new intergovernmental agreement between the county and the city of Aspen has been in the works since last fall. Both bodies have been reviewing updates and changes to draft guideline changes since then.

In Tuesday’s work session, County Manager Jon Peacock presented the most recent updates to the commissioners, who voiced their support for all changes.

The agreement creates a new governing board for APCHA. The most current proposed structure is a five member board, with three appointed citizens, and one representative each from the city council and the board of county commissioners. No meeting would have a quorum without one of each of the demographics represented.

While it had already been decided that there would be an alternate position for the elected members, the board discussed the merits of including an alternate member for the citizen appointment as well.

Commissioner George Newman said he was worried about the attendance record of an alternate citizen.

“If someone just jumps in who misses six months of meetings and tries to make a decision, I don’t think that's going to be very effective or efficient,” Newman said.

Peacock explained that the current APCHA board, which is made up of entirely of appointed citizens but does not have final decision making authority, already uses alternates effectively.

“There are alternates on the APCHA board now and it is my understanding that there is good attendance amongst the alternates, and typically there has been plenty of opportunities for the alternates to vote,” Peacock said.

The commissioners all agreed that the board composition should be five voting members — one commissioner, one council member and three citizens — with one alternate for the commissioner seat, one alternate for the council seat and one alternate for the three citizens seats, bringing the total number of board members to eight.

The commissioners then discussed how the citizens will be appointed or removed if they are not filling their duties. Right now appointed citizens need to be approved by both the county commissioners and the city council. It’s been proposed that a smaller selection committee made up of elected officials to make the decision.

Citizens are not required to be affordable housing residents but they need to live within the county, and likely at least one will be required to live within city limits.

While the commissioners supported the specific language changes discussed Tuesday, they also acknowledged that there are bigger picture discussions that are on hold until the newly-elected Aspen City Council is seated in June.

Those issues include who would hold the fiscal responsibility for the housing agency and who the executive director of APCHA would report to.

“That needs to be a future discussion with the new city council,” said Peacock.

Currently the executive director would continue to be a city employee, reporting to the city manager. However a provision has been added that the city manager would give direction consistent with a strategic plan set by the APCHA board.

Peacock called the strategic plan the “north star” for the new intergovernmental agreement, and said it would be agreed upon by the elected bodies on a long-term basis. The APCHA board would then have an annual work plan approved by the governments as well. However, the board would have the final vote on all policy matters.

“I hate to tell you but I think that works really well,” said Commissioner Patti Clapper.  

Also up for discussion is the possibility for APCHA to be its own independent body, which will also be on hold until June when the new city council can weigh in.

“I think we’ve already let them know that this is one of the first issues that they are going to be discussing,” Clapper said.

alycin@aspendailynews.com