Snowmass vote could spell end of resort association | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass vote could spell end of resort association

Chad Abraham

A Snowmass Village institution that once picked up the garbage, plowed the roads and provided other crucial services – a group that essentially was the town in the 1960s – may fold on Nov. 1.On election day, town voters will go to the polls to vote on three referendums, including one that could indirectly decide the future of the Snowmass Village Resort Association. In Referendum 2A, the town asks for permission to implement a 2.4 percent lodging tax on units rented out for fewer than 30 straight days.The tax is identical in amount to the current civic assessment the Snowmass Village Resort Association places on lodges. In effect, approval of 2A would simply shift the taxing authority from the resort association to the town.It is the latest in a shift of powers from the old guard to the new. Marketing efforts and group sales were once under the domain of the association but were transferred to the town’s marketing department two years ago.The association recently took a vote of its membership – comprising nearly 1,300 Snowmass business, home and condo owners – to decide if it wanted to dissolve and transfer the rest of its authority to the town if voters approve 2A. Tuesday was the final day of that vote, and the results will be released Thursday when the group meets, said Brett Huske, the association’s president.Instead of sadness over the possible breakup of an organization that predates the town’s incorporation – “We were the government,” Huske said – there is a sense on the board and among the members that the resort association has run its course, Huske said.”It was a big organization back in the late ’60s when it was formed, and it had a purpose back then,” he said.But with Base Village leading a resurgence in growth, “what will happen if you don’t have a true tax to collect for marketing and group sales, then new developments like the Base Village will not be part of the association,” Huske said.If 2A fails and taxing authority is not handed over to the town, the giant new development at Fanny Hill would likely start its own marketing entity that would also compete for group sales, he said.”Snowmass isn’t big enough to have two organizations out marketing this destination. Talk about confusing to the marketplace,” said Huske, explaining that each group would be touting its side of the resort. “And how does Aspen fit into this? It’s already confusing enough.”The resort association board recommended disbanding, he said. The move, if approved, would give the town a broader tax-collection base. It would also act as an umbrella group for marketing efforts.In Referendum 2B, Snowmass Village voters will be asked if the town can issue general obligation bonds that would allow the government’s debt to be increased $8.5 million. The funds would pay for the new town hall slated near the rodeo lot. Paying off the debt would cost $15.4 million, the ballot says.Former Mayor Jeff Tippet, a critic of 2B, questioned the town hall design and the cost.”I’m concerned about the character of the people who are planning the town hall. The issue is very much ‘Trust us. Give us permission to spend $6 million, and trust us to spend it wisely,'” he said. “They don’t have a design, they don’t have a firm price. I just think there are too many unanswered questions to warrant a yes vote.”Councilman John Wilkinson told the Snowmass Village Sun the plan would bring all of the town government under one roof, making civic activities more readily accessible.The third referendum, 2C, would also issue general obligation bonds and increase the town debt $3.1 million to pay for a new recreation center. Paying off the debt would cost $5.7 million; 2C has seen little opposition.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com

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