The last tax dollar | AspenTimes.com

The last tax dollar

Dear Editor:Mayor Ireland made it clear Tuesday night why both the upcoming property tax increase decision to be made Monday, Nov. 26, and the Ordinance 30 overhaul need intense citizen scrutiny and input.After being talked off the ledge of a 63 percent (yes, 63 percent, including the stormwater mill levy) increase in city property tax collections on Monday, Nov. 12, council will consider a still shocking 45 percent increase on Nov. 26! Mayor Irelands comments should cause us to question how our tax dollars are to be spent. He signaled his priorities in the hearing on Cooper Street Pier redevelopment project. The application, although supported by city staff and Planning and Zoning, was denied. In the hearing process, Mayor Ireland announced that if the applicant initiates litigation to resolve the matter, he will fight it to the last tax dollar! Citizens should question whether council has the right priorities in its spending and tax collection decisions. In councils misguided attempt to force illogical historic preservation designation on 30-plus-year-old homes, most council members balk at the idea of using tax dollars to mitigate the resulting economic damage to the homeowner. Some members have indicated that they would prefer to see the homeowners suffer the loss of their financial security than have the city write a check for the amount of damage the city causes by forced historic designation. They feel that the need to protect the citys treasury is more important than respect for the property of the citizen. (Councilman Romero has consistently stood for just compensation if the city forces designation and causes financial damage to homeowner.)Writing checks to homeowners whose property is devalued by the citys actions should be a very last resort. A more intelligent approach is to not force historic designation on 60s and 70s homes of questionable historic value and allow the homeowners their quiet enjoyment of the property. We have yet to see an Aspen 50s, 60s or 70s home of such overwhelming historic importance, which would justify a forced designation. If there is one which has community support for forced preservation, the city should mitigate any financial damage they cause, preferably by noncash incentives.But to spend the last tax dollar paying lawyers to fight a redevelopment supported by our volunteer P&Z board and the city staff seems to be squandering city resources. It also seems a reason to show restraint in raising tax revenues to avoid the temptation (and the bulging bank account) for such frivolous spending. Be present at the council meeting on the Nov. 26 to express your views on tax collections and responsible fiscal policy.Marilyn MarksAspen