SVRA hedges on eliminating tax
September 8, 2003
The Snowmass Village Resort Association plans to reduce, but not eliminate, common assessments for the coming fiscal year, a move that has some village residents threatening legal action.
Last month, the SVRA announced a 15 percent reduction in common assessments, which are similar to property taxes. Some citizens contend they were promised the assessments would be eliminated altogether.
Following a quarterly meeting last January, Hiram Champlin, SVRA board chairman, told The Aspen Times: “We are intent on eliminating the common assessments for the upcoming year.”
The announcement of a 15 percent reduction, instead of a full elimination, has the president of the Enclave Homeowners Association in Snowmass Village, Mel Blumenthal, considering legal action.
“Our members are extremely upset,” he said. “We are now in the process of determining what legal avenue we are going to take.”
Blumenthal said his location in the Enclave does not warrant a common assessment.
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“We’re too far removed from the conference center,” he said. Revenue from the assessments is used to run the town’s conference center. “We don’t get any benefits but we’re still required to pay this association. We need to figure out a more appropriate party to take over the conference center.”
SVRA President Brett Huske said people opposed to the assessments don’t realize the center’s impacts.
“I just think that group business has more benefit to people in the village than perhaps some realize,” said Huske.
Blumenthal said that he and the Enclave members are still in the discussion stage, but they plan to interview attorneys soon. Other property owners have already contacted attorneys, Blumenthal said.
While common assessments vary for each property, Enclave members pay approximately $1,200 a year, he said.
In the past year, the SVRA has significantly reduced its operations, closing its central reservations department and focusing primarily on generating business for the conference center. Blumenthal said SVRA officials can no longer effectively stimulate business in the struggling town.
“I think [the SVRA] is just not equipped to handle the tough economic times we’re now facing,” Blumenthal said. “I cannot see now, or in the foreseeable future, getting to a break-even situation.”
Huske disputed that the SVRA ever discussed completely eliminating common assessments.
“I understand where these individuals are coming from,” he said, “but I don’t recall any promises being made about anything. We were going to look into reducing the common assessment. I had no idea whether we could do it and still exist. This is a process that will take some time.”
While Blumenthal believes the SVRA should cease its operations, others, including some SVRA members, feel a change in leadership is necessary.
In a recent letter to Champlin, SVRA member Bob Sirkus called for Huske’s resignation.
“After hearing the results of the recent SVRA Board meeting last week and the budget that was passed, I must insist that you exercise your authority as chairman to seek the resignations of the Association President and board members who voted for the budget,” Sirkus wrote.
“The board has deceived and misled association members and the Snowmass Village community since discussions on the common assessment began in January.
“Unfortunately the SVRA board and management has lacked credibility for many years … It’s time for a major change in managing the organization,” he concluded.
The next board meeting, to finalize next year’s budget, is set for Oct. 30.
Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org