Grassl: Thriving town or ghost town? |

Grassl: Thriving town or ghost town?

Vote “no” to a proposed short-term rental tax of 24.4%

My family, friends and oh so many tourists have enjoyed all the outdoor, cultural and social amenities Aspen has had to offer for decades. Why do I suddenly feel like a great recipe for small town economic and cultural success is falling prey to high taxation approaches that are sure to cripple Aspen’s economic future and transition it into a ghost town? 

Definition of a ghost town: “A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed or ended for any reason.” — Wikipedia

This summer, I believe Aspen has seen a slowdown in tourism — headwinds like inflation, exorbitant fuel increases have had tourists voting to spend their hard-earned dollars elsewhere.

The additional short-term rental proposed surcharge tax of 13.1% plus the existing tax of 11.3% brings the proposed tax to 24.4%, which is higher than any comparable resort destination listed below (according to Frias Properties):

• Vail: 10.3%
• Snowmass Village: 12.8%
• Park City: 13.37%
• Telluride: 15.1%
• Crested Bute: 20.9%

Are we prepared to give up economic progress and momentum to other resort areas and make Aspen more unattainable than ever before? Not to mention drive tourism down to a point where businesses are likely to close their doors once again as we all witnessed in Aspen during the peak of COVID-19?

This is not progress — it is small-town government overreach in the guise of mitigating community impacts.

Communities start with sustainable, responsible growth and community culture of which the STR tax proposal in Ordinance 9 does nothing to support. 

Additionally, Aspen is already unaffordable for the average income family, making it difficult to evoke diversity across a meaningful scale from homeowner to town employees. Aspen’s future relies on a thriving town versus a town that is essentially saying “stay out.”

Anita Grassl


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