Financial aid good for houses throughout the valley
By Alissa Johnson
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council has changed its employee down payment assistance program last week so that Mt. Crested Butte employees can receive help with home purchases throughout the valley. Previously, the program focused on home purchases within Mt. Crested Butte.
According to town manager Joe Fitzpatrick, the program began as a way to help Mt. Crested Butte employees live in the town. “We needed and wanted employees living in town, specifically police officers,” he told the Town Council at its February 7 meeting.
Right now, one Mt. Crested Butte police officer and a few other staff live in town. The rest of the town’s employees live throughout the Gunnison Valley.
“Housing today is very different and very expensive,” Fitzpatrick continued. “I have a police officer who has found a home in Gunnison, and really what we want to look at is should we expand this to include Gunnison County even though we like to have people living up here. It’s much more difficult to afford a house up here.”
The employee in question has worked for the town for more than 10 years. If expanded, the program would allow him to borrow up to $30,000 for a down payment. According to mayor Todd Barnes, the program was originally designed to allow for up to three employees to be helped at a time.
Fitzpatrick said that the program has been used and the loans paid back at least three times, and there is one employee currently paying back a loan.
“Has anyone ever defaulted?” councilmember Ken Lodovico wanted to know.
“No, there have been no problems,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I personally have no problem with this. If we have a good employee willing to show up on time and be at work, it doesn’t matter where they move,” Barnes said.
“Especially if they’ve been around that long,” councilmember Bill Thompson added.
David O’Reilly wanted to know if it was necessary to change the document, or if the council could simply approve this particular loan. Staff was clear that the document should be changed. In the end, the council voted to amend the program so that Mt. Crested Butte employees can receive support for a home purchase elsewhere in the county.