July 15, 2002
Thanks to Heidi Houston for raising the effects of the moratorium on Pitkin County’s budget in her letter to the editor. The moratorium did result in a large decrease in fees collected by the planning and building departments.
Unfortunately, Heidi’s premise that we would not be in this pickle if we just allowed building to proceed unfettered is not supported by research conducted statewide. Financial analysis is demonstrating that residences do not pay their share of their impact on a city or county budget – business pays the costs.
Under Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment, the lion’s share of the property tax burden is borne by commercial properties. Colorado also has one of the highest sales taxes in the country, again a tax reliant on prosperous businesses. Remember the battles between Eastern Slope jurisdictions trying to entice commercial properties into their borders?
Compounding the impact of state taxing laws, the trends we have experienced here resulting in a marked decline in rental beds equates to fewer visitors consuming products charged sales taxes.
Residents (full- or part-time) just don’t buy enough to make up the loss of weekly infusions of fresh consumers. The county has very little commercial zoning, and expansion of those uses are usually opposed by neighbors or caucuses.
And though the largest economic generator in our county, real estate sales, gives the city a source of revenue, Pitkin County cannot, by constitutional amendment (Tabor), collect real estate transfer taxes. There is no state provision allowing collection of tax on “services.”
Recommended Stories For You
With the expiration of the 3 percent use tax on building materials, little tax is collected from the building industry. In short, the evolution of our local economy and mind-set from tourist (tax generating commercial) to second homes (non taxable – service, real estate sales and building) means the manner in which we used to generate revenues to pay for county-provided services doesn’t work anymore.
Our county tax system was failing … 9-11 was just the straw.
Pitkin County Commissioner