Aspen Skiing Co. donates $20,000 from property tax refund to Basalt Gives
Aspen Skiing Co. pledged $20,000 to the Basalt Gives campaign, which is designed to provide a financial boost to nonprofit organizations serving the midvalley, a company official said Friday.
Auden Schendler, senior vice president of community sustainability and community engagement, said Skico also donated $10,000 to its in-house Caring for Community fund. That fund also gives money to social causes and organizations.
The $30,000 came from the property tax overcharge refund that Skico received in October. About 2,500 account holders were issued refunds of $2.1 million from the town of Basalt.
Schendler said Skico officials wanted to be part of the community effort rather than use all the funds in its in-house program.
“We said, ‘Hey, the community had a good idea. Let’s play,’” he said.
Civic leaders created the Basalt Gives campaign to appeal to people and businesses to plow their refunds back into the community by giving to nonprofit organizations. The campaign was co-organized by Rick Stevens, a former Basalt mayor; Jim Light, a midvalley resident and founding partner of the Roaring Fork Club; and Jon Fox-Rubin, a former councilman who also is involved in numerous civic endeavors.
The goal is to raise $500,000 that can be dispersed immediately to nonprofits. Donors are urged to either give directly to one or more nonprofits of their choice, with a designation that it is part of the Basalt Gives program, or contribute through the Aspen Community Foundation, which disperses funds to nonprofits.
As of Friday afternoon, about $88,500 had been donated to Basalt Gives. Schendler said Skico hoped to lead by example by giving $20,000. Officials hope that will inspire other businesses and individuals to contribute to the cause.
Fox-Rubin said donations have ranged from $40 to several thousand dollars.
“I enjoy an aggressive goal and am sanguine that the funds will keep accumulating,” he said.
Basalt town government had to provide the refunds when it discovered it had regularly violated the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR, an amendment to the state constitution since 1992. TABOR restricts increases in tax revenue and requires that voters approve new taxes.
Basalt officials thought they had removed restrictions with a vote in 1994. However, legal advisers told them the ballot wording in 1994 didn’t remove the requirement that any tax increase be voter approved.
Although the town government has lowered its property tax mill levy numerous times since 1994, it also has raised the mill levy 10 times since 2006.
TABOR holds a taxing entity responsible for only four years worth of overcharges.
As Pitkin County Open Space and Trails moves closer to approval for the development of a 7-mile trail from Redstone to McClure Pass, some Crystal Valley residents cry foul over wildlife impacts and potential for further development.