Omar Campbell: Property tax vital
April 5, 2009
Steamboat Springs — Towny Anderson’s commentary in the March 29 Pilot & Today (“Sales tax and community character”) was right on the mark. This matter has come up at least twice the past couple of decades. The last time, the City Council appointed a “blue ribbon” committee to consider it. The committee’s recommendation, agreed to by council, was to stick with sales tax to support the city. That was a mistake, in my opinion. A property tax could have averted the budget crisis we are in – hindsight now, of course. No one could have predicted the depression we are in, but it is now obvious that we need to act for the future.
My suggestion is that the current sales tax be cut by a couple of percentage points, as an offset, and a city property tax be put to the voters. A property tax plus a reduced sales tax should cost taxpayers about the same as we now are paying in sales tax alone.
As Anderson points out, second-home owners actually are getting a free ride in supporting our town. They come for two or three weeks a year and contribute practically nothing to sales tax revenues.
Tourism is a fickle base for the support of our town. A property tax should lend stability, regardless of the usual ups and downs of the general economy.
I also agree with Anderson that a sales tax base causes elected officials to promote growth and “big box” retailers to increase sales taxes. Do we want to become like Edwards and Avon in Eagle County? Generica, USA?
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