Colorado mountain communities harvesting record real estate taxes, but not banking on boom |

Colorado mountain communities harvesting record real estate taxes, but not banking on boom

The 2021-22 winter was the best ever for ski resort operators, with record traffic and peaking profits. It was pretty good for ski towns, too.

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun

Aspen and 11 other mountain communities that approved real estate transfer taxes saw an 84% surge in revenues in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2018 and 2019.

For the 12 mountain communities where voters approved real estate transfer taxes — known as RETTs — in the 1970s and 1980s before the passage of the 1992 Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the recent increase of home buying has filled real estate transfer tax coffers to record levels. 

While tax coffers are swelling, municipal leaders will tell you so is the demand on their services, infrastructure and workforce housing. 

In November 2021, Aspen voters expanded the use of RETT beyond the Wheeler Opera House and allowed the tax revenue to support arts organizations, artists and the Red Brick Center for the Arts.

Aspen also directs RETT revenue to affordable housing, and the city is finishing 79 new affordable housing units that will open next year. The city’s new 280-unit, $390 million Lumberyard housing project is set to break ground in 2026, thanks in part to RETT funds.

Sara Ott, Aspen’s city manager, said she’s proud her City Council continues to direct RETT funds into affordable housing. And she knows her city is the envy of many other mountain communities that wish they had piles of real estate tax revenue to add worker housing. 

Still, no one is betting that the sales tax and RETT surges are sustainable. Things are slowing down. The high country real estate market is finally settling after two years of frenzied buying and selling. Retailers are seeing stuff sell a bit more slowly. Same for lodge keepers, who are seeing a slight slowdown in occupancy after record gains in the past year as demand for mountain holidays boomed.


More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.