Glenwood to put another $80K in employee loan program
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The city of Glenwood Springs will add another $80,000 to its Employee Home Ownership Program to cover two pending loan applications and provide for one more opportunity for city workers to take advantage of.
The 5-1 Glenwood Springs City Council decision at the July 15 meeting didn’t come without some concerns that the program should begin to pay itself back before more money is put into it.
“I just don’t think the economic conditions are conducive to funding it right now,” said Councilor Matt Steckler, who voted against the move.
The program was initiated two years ago with an initial $320,000, offering homebuyer loans for qualified city employees of up to $40,000. The program was seen at the time as a way to retain employees in a competitive labor market, recognizing the high cost of housing in the area.
Since the program began, the city has been able to fund seven loans for a total of $278,250, leaving a balance of $41,750. However, with two loan applications pending, City Manager Jeff Hecksel requested that at least another $40,000 be put into the fund, and perhaps more if council was inclined to fund any further loans.
“I believe the program has accomplished what we were trying to accomplish two years ago,” he said. “At some point it will become self-sustaining, as money from the loan payments revolve back into the fund and out again.
“When this was put in place, at the time we were having an extremely hard time recruiting employees, especially in the police department,” Hecksel said. “We were down to almost a third of the workforce for sworn police officers.”
Although no police department workers ended up taking advantage of the program, it has helped employees in the electric and engineering departments, the city clerk’s office, the fire department and the city’s broadband superintendent, afford to buy a home in the area, Hecksel included in an earlier report to city council members.
“The need might not be as crucial at this point, but the economy is not always going to be depressed,” Council Russ Arensman said in supporting fellow Council Stephen Bershenyi’s motion to put an additional $80,000 into the fund.
“We have to cover the two pending applications, and I’d like to see us be able to extend at least one more,” Bershenyi said. “I know it’s a hard time to justify expenditures, but these are the kinds of investments that will pay off in ways we don’t always see right away.”
Hecksel said the housing loan program will be closely monitored, as the city looks at its future finances heading into the rest of this year and 2011.
“This has been a very successful program to date and seems to be providing the retention value that we projected, and it has allowed many of our younger employees get into home ownership that would not have been able to otherwise,” the city’s human services director, John Angell, wrote in June 22 memo to Hecksel.
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The Glenwood Springs Fire Department is battling a small blaze on a ridgeline west of Yampah Mountain High School.