On July 10, reporter Jenna deJong wrote a compelling story titled “Summit County continues to offer mortgages to staff amid labor shortages… “I am writing this because my name is featured in this story as someone who has a problem with the county government providing real estate loans to staff. To be clear, I have no problem with the district providing down payment assistance to full-time full-time staff members through the current program. There are clear guidelines governing this program, one of which is that the amount of assistance allowed to anyone is limited to US $ 30,000.
In this story, County Manager Scott Vargo argued that there is a second “program” for senior staff, specifically for staff retention. This “program” provided more than $ 1.1 million to four employees, well above the $ 30,000 per person statutory contribution limit. In fact, this is more than 10 times more. I don’t believe for a minute that there is a second “program” for the leadership team. I do believe that special arrangements have been made to provide real estate loans to a handful of high-level employees, and I think this is a problem.
Finally, the article states that there are similar programs in Eagle, Pitkin and Grand counties. While they may have down payment assistance programs, none provide full-fledged real estate loans to senior employees. However, Summit County did just that, refusing to provide promised road maintenance in the county due to “budget constraints.” I think it’s time for the promised transparency.
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