Beware the Taj Mahal tax |

Beware the Taj Mahal tax

Dear Editor:

Those of us living downvalley just received a letter describing the proposed recreation center to be built in Crown Mountain Park if voters approve it. The proponents are planning a center grander than the Taj Mahal – and likely more expensive.

The letter explains that the facility will contain three pools, a gymnasium and other amenities. The letter also says it will serve 10,000 midvalley residents (who will foot the bill) and “the entire valley.” The projected cost will be $25 million. Simple arithmetic suggests that we will pay $2,500 per resident. The letter also informs us that the estimated mill levy is $4.98 per month per $100,000 assessed valuation.

If correct, the owner of a $500,000 home is going to pay $299 per year in additional taxes.

However, we know the cost estimates will be wrong. Changes in federal tax laws and increasing interest rates could double or triple the average taxpayer’s assessment. Ask yourself: “Am I willing to pay $1,000 per year for the Midvalley Taj?” You almost certainly will if you own a home that is valued at, say $800,000, by the tax assessors. The cost may not even be deductible from your federal tax.

Valley business owners should examine the number carefully. The additional tax payments going to the Midvalley Taj will come out of discretionary spending. This means fewer trips to restaurants, fewer purchases at local stores, etc. The Taj Tax will cut sharply into the economic vitality of the community.

Homeowners also should realize that the values of their homes will go down. Higher taxes usually hurt property values. (Education is sometimes an exception, but the Taj tax likely will hurt education spending, especially if voters resist other taxes.)

I am almost certain that it would be far less expensive to identify the likely users of the facility and subsidize their memberships in one of the many private clubs in the valley.

We left Aspen in 2008 in part because we could not stand the Burlingame housing scandal. The midvalley recreation center proposal is far worse. Mick Ireland and other spendthrift Aspen politicians must be green with envy.

The proponents of the Taj need to go back to the drawing board. The valley cannot afford the Taj.

Philip Verleger


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