Our View: City questions deserve voter support | AspenTimes.com

Our View: City questions deserve voter support

Aspen, CO Colorado

The city of Aspen is asking voters this Tuesday to approve three referendums. We support them all.

The first, Referendum 2E, asks voters to renew the 0.45 percent city’s housing/day care sales tax until 2040. The tax expires in 2012. A portion of the revenue generated from the tax ” 55 percent ” feeds money to area day care providers through the city’s Kids First program. The other 45 percent goes to the city’s affordable-housing program.

We believe this tax is vital to ensuring the existence of the city’s day care program, and without it parents could potentially be taken out of the workforce by having to stay at home and take care of their children.

The tax also goes a long way to supporting our affordable-housing program. We are hard pressed to find a reason to not support a tax that is critical to the lifeblood of this community ” its workers.

We do, however, question why the city mingles housing and day care into the same sales tax. But that concern is trumped by the need to sustain our day care and housing programs.

Vote YES on Referendum 2E.

Referendum 2F seeks to renew the 1 percent Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT), which is the largest funding mechanism for the housing program. That tax doesn’t expire until 2024 but voters are being asked to extend it to 2040.

Because the housing fund has been depleted as a result of $31 million in land acquisitions last year, revenue from the RETT and the housing/day care tax won’t immediately enable officials to continue building housing. The only option, city officials say, is to ask voters to borrow against future tax revenues through what officials hope will be tax-exempt bonds. The tax extensions are needed to pay back bonds with 20- or 30-year terms.

Extending the RETT will help provide security for our affordable housing program. Without it a crisis could be on the horizon.

Vote YES on Referendum 2F.

A third question, Referendum 2G, asks to increase the units at Burlingame Ranch from 236 to as much as 300. The units would be stacked and built with modular construction techniques; the increased density would lower the city’s per unit subsidy because more units would be available for sale.

Voters should keep in mind that they originally approved the construction of 236 units and now the city wants to bump it up by 66 more units.

But this is an advisory question, so we see no reason not to support it. If it is approved, it will still take an unanimous vote from the residents who currently live at Burlingame to approve it.

Vote YES on Referendum 2G.

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