No on Snowmass town hall double tax
October 27, 2005
Dear Editor:During the past six months there’s been a rapid growth of negative comments and feelings of distrust directed at the Snowmass Village Town Council. Some of their decisions have been so ill-conceived, thoughtless and wrongheaded that they’ve had to retract them based upon a groundswell of negative response from the community. In an attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’ve been one of the last holdouts suggesting we be patient with them. They’ll learn from their past mistakes. Well, I’ve now thrown in the towel. Unfortunately I have to admit everyone else was right and I’m wrong. Irrefutable evidence surfaced last week which was confirmed at the Snowmass Sun Election Forum and again at this Monday’s Town Council meeting that the council intends to double-tax all of us for the construction and ownership of a new town hall. By putting Issue 2B on the Nov. 1 ballot, the council intends to sell bonds covering the full cost of acquiring, constructing, furnishing and equipping this new facility. The community will pay back these bonds via our yearly property taxes for the next 22 years. However, we’ve just learned that once our current town hall lease is terminated, they also intend to keep as a windfall for the town’s general fund the rent we pay to the owners of the Snowmass Center (presently about $240,000 annually, which includes a cost allocation for common area maintenance, plus annual escalation).Many of our citizens strongly recommended that the Town Council apply this sum towards defraying a portion of the construction costs of this new facility or to repay a portion of the new bond Issue which would reduce the community’s bond repayment by almost one-half. They’ve refused to do so even though this yearly sum has been dedicated out of the general fund to pay the rent and applicable common area maintenance costs on the current town hall located in the Snowmass Center. They’re apparently so enamored with thoughts of a huge annual slush fund that they see nothing wrong in taxing us twice for the same project. Although in concept this project is worthwhile and one that may ultimately be necessary to house all or almost all of our town services in a single user friendly facility, this Town Council has not demonstrated any aptitude for proper economic analysis or strategic planning in order to maximize the cost efficiencies of this project. If you vote no on 2B, you are not voting against this potentially beneficial project. You’re merely telling the Town Council they have more work to do, and that if they do their job properly we’ll revisit this issue a year from this November.Mel D. BlumenthalSnowmass Village and Santa Monica, Calif.