What’s the bottom line? | AspenTimes.com

What’s the bottom line?

Annie AddisonSpecial to The Aspen Times
Mark Fox/The Aspen Times Aspen Middle School

What would the 2006 tax bill be for an Aspen resident with $1 million home, if all of the local tax referendums on the November ballot pass?Voters will decide on several tax measures on Nov. 1, including those posed by the Aspen Historical Society, Aspen School District, Aspen Valley Hospital and the city of Aspen.The Aspen Times calculated the effect of these items on the tax bill for an Aspen house or condo valued at $1 million. As a starting point, consider the 2005 tax bill for a $1 million house or condo in Aspen is $2,418.80 (based on a mill levy of 30.387).In Referendum 3A, the Aspen School District is seeking a mill levy override that would generate up to $700,000 in additional revenue starting with the 2006 fiscal year. The money would go directly into the district’s operating budget and be used for, among other things, teacher salaries.The school district’s Referendum 3B asks permission to raise taxes and borrow up to $33 million in order to replace the 35-year-old middle school and add several classrooms at the elementary school.

If the 3B is approved, it would result in an approximate tax hike of $115. If 3A is approved, school taxes would increase another $33 for each $1 million of assessed property value.

So, if both 3A and 3B are approved, school taxes would increase by $148, bringing the total school tax bill for a $1 million home to $831 per year, according to Terry Casey, the school district’s bond counsel. If neither school question passes, the owner of a million-dollar home would pay $683 in 2006.

In Referendum 2D, the city of Aspen is asking to retain excess property taxes for the next five years, starting with 2005 taxes payable in 2006. The city wants to use the money to purchase alternative-fuel buses, improve the stormwater runoff system, build a new outdoor pool at the Aspen Recreation Center and make improvements to the city’s trails and sidewalks.If 2D passes, there will be no tax increase. If the ballot question fails, the city would need to return its excess tax collections. The owner of a $1 million home would get $44 back next year.In Referendum 5A, Aspen Valley Hospital is asking to extend its existing property tax for five years, raising approximately $2.79 million per year at a tax rate of 1.5 mills.Voters first passed the tax in 1995 with a five-year renewal clause; it was renewed in 2000. The tax expires in 2005, so hospital district property owners would not pay the tax beginning next year if 5A fails.Money from the hospital property tax goes directly into the hospital’s general operating budget. The impact of 5A, on a home valued at $1 million, would be a continuing tax bill of $119.40 a year.In Referendum 5E, the new Aspen Historic Park and Recreation District is asking for a $575,000 tax increase to support operations at the Aspen Historical Society. If passed, the tax would impact the $1 million homeowner to the tune of $23.80 annually.So there are a couple of ways of looking at the “cost” of all those tax questions. If voters strike down every one of the above referendums, the owner of a $1 million home would save approximately $335 next year. If voters approve all of the tax measures, that same homeowner would pay approximately $172 in new taxes (going to the schools and the historic society) and another $163 in taxes that homeowner already pays (to the hospital and the city).

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