Don’t abuse our trust | AspenTimes.com

Don’t abuse our trust

Dear Editor:

This letter is addressed to all local taxing authorities including Pitkin County Commissioners, Aspen City Council, town of Snowmass Village, Aspen School District, Aspen Valley Hospital and the Aspen Fire District.

City of Aspen property values for tax purposes increased by 43 percent in 2007. Pitkin County taxable values increased by 41 percent. Unless out taxing authorities exercise discretion in establishing budgets for 2008 and beyond, our property tax bills will rise by an average of over 40 percent in 2008, and in excess of 120 percent over the next three years. For many of us living in Aspen’s modest homes, the increase will be far greater ” my assessed value rose by over 75 percent. Unfortunately, my income did not keep up with my rising property tax bill.

The city of Aspen enjoys what is likely the largest, or certainly one of the largest per capita budgets in the world at over $100 million (or about $18,000 per person), and we enjoy excellent facilities and services. The Aspen Valley Hospital already has announced its intent to use windfall tax revenues for capital projects, and it appears most taxing authorities are poised to grab its share of this windfall. Meanwhile, I see little demand for more services, and therefore increasing budgets.

The Tabor and Bruce amendments protect Colorado residents from government budgets increasing by in excess of inflation plus new construction value except by a vote of the people. Despite these protections, most of us, including myself, have regularly voted to de-Bruce many of our local property taxes to allow taxing authorities to retain tax revenue in excess of inflation. I do not think any of us contemplated that our taxing authorities would abuse this authority by grabbing windfall revenue and increasing budgets by 40 percent in a single year.

I encourage all taxing authorities to exercise restraint in establishing budgets and applying their taxing authority. Don’t abuse our trust.

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The city of Aspen’s budgets are large enough. Stormwater management may be a great idea, but we do not need more tax revenue to pay for it. Vote NO on 2B.

Mike Maple

Aspen

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