It’s already paid for |

It’s already paid for

Dear Editor:

As a former member of the Wheeler Opera House Board I’d like to respond to Gail Mason’s “Just Curious” letter in The Aspen Times (March 24). Though she has her dates wrong (the RETT expires if not renewed in 2019), she highlights a long debate among board members over whether to fund an expansion of the Wheeler with RETT money or save it “for a rainy day” and instead ask voters for a tax increase. There is one way to make sure the RETT is not renewed in 2019 and that is to think that the endowment can fund operations.

I happen to come down on the side of using the Wheeler RETT funds to build the addition. Think of it this way: There are two kinds of investment in the future. One is to bank the tax revenue and earn interest on it though there is some question whether Wheeler operations could be funded on the interest income. The other is to invest in facility improvements and expansion. This is a community investment in that having more facilities for the arts and convention use brings more money to town, increasing tax revenue.

While I think it very unlikely that Aspenites would not renew the RETT in 2019, the options if it were to happen are pretty straightforward ” pass a tax increase, lease it out or close it. Frankly, the seeds of any of these scenarios would have been set in motion by not expanding the use and functionality of the Wheeler Opera House now. We’ve already paid for it, let’s move ahead.

Jon Busch


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