Snowmass Base Village homeowners: Property ‘tax to the max’

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Snowmass Village.
Erica Robbie/The Aspen Times |

Some Base Village homeowners expressed frustrations with the rates of their property taxes, which are more than double what other Snowmass residents are levied, at a town meeting Monday.

The board for the General Improvement District, which encompasses the Base Village area, held a meeting to approve its mill levies for 2017.

Under the Town of Snowmass Village, the General Improvement District (GID) was established in the early 2000s as a way to help finance the development of Base Village, according to Snowmass Town Manager Clint Kinney.

The mill-levy rates have not increased since the General Improvement District inception more than 10 years ago, Kinney said, but a few Base Village homeowners have labeled it an issue of taxation without representation.

Part-time Snowmass resident Pat Keefer opened the public comment, stating, “We’ll try to keep emotions under control, but it is difficult when you are staring at ‘tax to the max’ mill levies that are unique to Base Village.”

Keefer, owner of a condominium unit in Capitol Peak Lodge, introduced her neighbor, Bruce Smith.

“Capitol Peak owners provide more GID income from privately owned properties than any other group in the Base Village. As such, we invited the GID chair to speak at our annual owner’s meeting on Dec. 5. The GID chair wasn’t able to attend. Neither did any of the other four GID board members or any of the three advisory board GID members. Other groups we invited to our annual meeting sent representation. But not GID,” Smith said. “I’m here to tell you it’s not OK to ignore your taxpayers. The Base Village, to include this GID, has been built using special tax districts. Although (Snowmass) Town Council authorized these special tax districts to include the result of intergovernmental agreement, unfortunately, we as (Base Village) residential owners have no say or representation in these districts.”

He noted that Base Village residential property owners pay taxes at a rate of 211 percent, compared with other Snowmass Village property owners that pay property taxes at 100 percent.

According to the Town Manager’s office, all property owners in Snowmass Village are levied with approximately 45 mills each year.

Base Village homeowners, however, are charged an additional six mills, per the General Improvement District tax — and another 43.5 mills via the Metro District tax — on top of the 45 required of all Snowmass residents.

Revenue from the General Improvement District tax is divvied between the snowmelt system on Carriage Way and the Skittles lift between Base Village and the mall. Taxes for the Metro District, which is not part of the town government, finances operations such as the garage and conference center, among others, Kinney said.

In essence, he said, both taxes were proposed as a means of helping develop Base Village.

Snowmass Village Mayor Markey Butler acknowledged the homeowners’ concerns, but said, “I just wish we had a path forward.”

“And perhaps in the future we might be able to look at it as we move through a new ownership structure. … It’s been on our minds, we continue to look at it, we continue to think about it. And the ability to solve any of that issue right now is kind of out there.”

Butler concluded, “Not that we’re not interested in trying to find a resolution at some point.”

In an interview after the General Improvement District meeting, Kinney said, “We’re sympathetic, we understand their position, we understand that they believe the taxes are too high.”

That said, the only alternatives for decreasing the General Improvement District tax on Base Village homeowners are either redistributing the mill levies among all Snowmass residents or reducing the tax rates and, consequently, operations for both snowmelt and the Skittles lift, Kinney said.