Letter: Sales tax alone never will suffice
I have done extensive research regarding other ski communities and how they are generating revenues to support their projects and expenses. I spoke to the Summit County Assessor in Utah, home of Park City. They adjust their assessed values based upon whether or not you pay taxes in the state; ergo, second-home owners pay more, and it takes some of the pain away from the lower income families.
However, and once again, our state governs for the population-intense communities and not the rural communities. For us to attempt such an action would be against the constitution, just like the transfer tax that our previous councils kicked down the street, making us the only ski community in Colorado that does not have such a tax.
This past year in the Roaring Fork Valley, over $9 million will be generated by a transfer tax. If a developer chooses to impose a transfer tax on a project it does not need to go to a referendum, which is the good news. We placed a self-imposed transfer tax on the Alpen Glow and Howelsen Place projects, but its final charge was compromised, and I, for one, do not believe that it is being leveraged to the level it could be.
In Willitts, a new community across Highway 82 from Basalt, the developer chose to impose a 1% transfer fee in perpetuity for all of the product in the development. As a result it is paying for the development of the new performing/visual arts center, its operations and all new parks in the area. This is an avenue that needs to be explored more.
A dedicated property tax could go to multiple projects funded by bonding. I refer to these projects as our community and cultural infrastructure. Some of those would be:
• More day care facilities
• Development of a recreation center
• Get the second sheet of ice in
• Have enough funds to adequately maintain our parks
• Create a development plan for Howelsen Hill Ski Area that will create a sustainable recreational area
• Better fund our arts programs
• Environmental programs, such as zero waste and organic recycling
• Better support for affordable housing. This will never disappear.
• A well-thought-out, valley-wide transportation system
I tire hearing of hearing the tap dance rhetoric about sales tax being sustainable. It is not, and never will be unless we are content to run in place and not make what we have better.
Sales tax is not going to get better. Small increases will not pay the bills and programs that need to be funded. Web-based shopping will continue to erode local retail sales, and the next Amazon will be right around the corner. There are other funding sources out there.
Previous councils did not provide us with a whole lot of planning for the future. It is time for this council to create a sustainable plan for the future so that our future generations can be proud.
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