2C: Snowmass OKs workforce-housing measure
Snowmass residents voted to approve a ballot measure that diverts a portion of the revenue generated from the town’s separate marketing and lodging taxes to worker housing. The current 2.4% town lodging tax and 2.5% town sales tax are no longer restricted to marketing, special events, and group sales purposes.
The existing tax rate has not been raised. However, it has added workforce housing to the list of potential uses. The expanded use of the taxes includes, “acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of town-owned, controlled, or sponsored workforce housing,” as stated on the ballot.
The goal of the tax expansion is to address workforce housing needs without raising any taxes. The current taxes promote tourism in Snowmass and with tourism comes workers who need a place to live.
“The relationship and correlation between tourism and the need for workforce housing is such
that expanding the potential uses of these tax funds seemed obvious,” Town Manager Clint Kinney wrote in a Sept. 6.
Currently leading in the Snowmass Mayoral race, incumbent Bill Madsen voiced his support for 2C.
“2C is really important for Snowmass because, like everywhere, Snowmass is needing employee housing, and one of the best ways to build community is to have people living close to where they work; and, if we can provide that opportunity, Snowmass is really winning,” he said.
The state of Colorado requires the repurposing of voter-approved taxes to be approved by voters. In 2002, voters approved the 2.5% sales tax to fund marketing efforts. In 2004, the 2.4% lodging tax was approved for group sales by voters.
In 2021, the two taxes generated $8.5 million and are predicted to generate $10 million this year. If patterns continue, Kinney said the taxes should generate $11 million next year.
The Marketing, Group Sales, and Special Events Board, also known as the Tourism Board, originally suggested adding language to the measure that would give 80% of tax revenue to their original intent of marketing, special events, and group sales, and the other 20% would go towards workforce housing. Council decided against this language because they said they would prefer to have flexibility with how funds are used and the 80-20 split would limit their ability to do that.
The Aspen Times received hundreds of letters to the editor this election season and almost none dealt with Snowmass ballot issue 2C. Longtime Snowmass resident Mike Sura is the lone letter writer to criticize the measure, stating that Snowmass already has more than enough revenue.
“Employee housing should be paid for by the employers, not the taxpayers — unless specifically for town employees, teachers, or first responders or through some kind of shared participation,” he wrote.
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Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won reelection in Colorado’s GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District on Friday, barely overcoming voters’ forceful rebuke of her highly controversial tenure in Washington over the past two years to help her party expand its slim majority in the U.S. House.