Rebate won’t work
October 19, 2010
As a former county commissioner (three terms) and Aspen’s mayor, I respectfully disagree with Elizabeth Milias’ contention that reallocating county funds to create a property tax rebate for certain businesses is a “clever way” to preserve local jobs.
The proposal appears to combine the worst aspects of government over-reach and ineffective subsidies without specifying the cost of such a program. Deciding who creates local jobs, what a local job is and who is a “triple net” business would require considerable staffing.
With approximately 1,000 businesses operating in Pitkin County, even a $100 tax rebate would cost $100,000 annually and probably result in very little hiring. A $1,000 rebate, about 2 percent of the annual cost of hiring a local at $15 per hour, would hardly be an effective incentive to hire anyone and yet would cost $1 million in tax dollars if the 1,000 or so businesses operating here did not reduce payrolls during the next year.
The state of the national economy and local marketing efforts are far more likely to drive job growth. Because many employers will be adding jobs as the economy rebounds, the taxpayers would wind up rewarding behavior that is already taking place.
Ms. Milias attacks Jack Johnson as a champion of what she calls a “welfare state,” advocates for cutting “social programs” and using the money to send checks to some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful multinational corporations. I understand the fundamentally Republican Party beliefs are at work in this proposal, but I am not ready to forsake the community’s senior citizens, disabled children and neediest citizens to provide corporations with expensive and ineffective tax cuts.
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Most of the county’s human-service programs are funded by a special tax that the voters twice imposed on themselves by overwhelming majorities. The agencies assisted by these programs include senior services, assistance to children with special needs, victims of domestic violence and youth programs.
For Ms. Milias and the advocates of more corporate tax breaks, those programs constitute a welfare state. For those of us with two or three jobs, Pitkin County’s modest efforts to help those in need are the roots of a community that helps those in need in times of stress.
I will vote for Jack Johnson as a candidate who understands that our obligations run not just to ourselves and our economic bottom line.