Keeping Wheeler funds safe |

Keeping Wheeler funds safe

In 1980 city voters approved a half a percent Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) on all land within the city to support the Wheeler Opera House. The city has collected the tax not only on land value as authorized by the voters but also on the value of the improvements on the land, resulting in a significant fund to support the Wheeler. Voters reauthorized the tax a few years ago, extending it to the year 2019.

This RETT revenue is applied to the operation and improvement of the Wheeler. The result is that theater rental, concessions and box office receipts are not needed for Wheeler operations and instead are diverted to local nonprofits. Grants worth approximately $400,000 were made this way in 2002.

RETT revenue exceeding operational expenses is held in a fund limited to the purpose of the original RETT, meaning operation and improvement of the Wheeler. The upcoming election provides us with an opportunity to help choose what this cash rich fund holds.

Last December, City Council decided to invest $4.5 million of the Wheeler fund in a loan to the Aspen Recreational Center with a payback by 2006. I support keeping the Wheeler fund focused on the Wheeler and its own back yard. The purchase of adjacent real estate provides the Wheeler opportunities to improve its arts offerings while providing a safe place for the Wheeler funds. Vote yes on Referendum 2E.

Bert Myrin


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