Only Village developer benefits from fee
The public improvement fee is a bailout for the Village at Crystal River developer. It’s as simple as that.
No one is bailing me out or any of the other residents in Carbondale who own homes that are crashing in value. No one is subsidizing us while we work two jobs and struggle to keep our kids in college. No one is lining our pockets with dollars siphoned out of the budgets of those feeding our families.
I spend $1,000 a month on food for my family. That’s $120 a year in public improvement fees at today’s prices, not prices 10 or 20 years from now. Not a lot? That same $120 would buy us a spectacular meal at 689, where money would be supporting local farms, local employees and a local entrepreneur who has made a huge difference in our town both economically and with a social conscience. It also gives sales tax dollars straight to the town coffers without a quick, additional diversion to the developer’s bank account.
Though the Meadows has a public improvement fee, they are uncommon and a sign that the development cannot stand on its own economics. Any engineer or savvy town government can tell you that. The bankrupt businesses at the Meadows can tell you that. All of Willits, including Whole Foods, does not have a public improvement fee tax. In this case, the developer paid top dollar for the Village property and wants us to bail him out of his responsibilities for the road improvements into his mall.
He demands that we pay a 1 percent fee on all goods sold on this property, including groceries, until his construction bond plus interest is paid for. The bond of $2.4 million is estimated to accrue interest so that our payout over 24 years (the minimum time the town website says repayment will take) will be $5 million. That’s $5 million we are tacking on to our grocery bill because, frankly, City Market is the only thing committed to this new development.
So for $5 million we get an abandoned building at the corner of Main and Highway 133, eight new jobs at a grocery store a half-mile down the road, and a cluster of traffic at a roundabout funneling cars away from downtown and into this mall. The developer, however, gets out of his obligations, lines his pockets with more profit and puts higher food costs onto the backs of our working-class families. The developer gets a subsidy. Translation: privatized profit and socialized cost. It’s as simple as that.
The public improvement fee hurts families and has the strongest impact on the lower and middle classes, which spend a greater portion of their income on food. It translates into less food we are able to buy at the grocery store and less disposable income for other necessities.
Really, it’s as simple as that.
Vote no to a public improvement fee tax.
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The city of Aspen’s office building is exempt from paying encroachment fees, yet private developers have to now pay $9 a square foot, per month, starting in 2020.