Klug: Wrong for Aspen’s economy
Yes, there is a serious employee housing issue in Aspen, as in other resort areas in our state, and our City Council is right to address it. But, measure 2A is not the answer.
2A increases lodging taxes in an unfair way, discriminating against condominium hotel operations that have been an important foundation of Aspen’s guest lodging for years. This proposed tax unfairly focuses on condominium hotel operations and requires a whopping five-percentage point increase in lodging taxes at targeted lodging facilities — condominium hotels.
It does not require any tax increase on traditional hotels, nor is there any tax at all on rentals of time-share units. Aspen’s condominium hotels accommodate guests who are important as customers in our local shops and restaurants, and soaking these guests with this huge new tax as proposed is unfair to them and to the condominium hotels that accommodate them.
Yes, we have workforce-housing challenges, but looking to the 2A ballot measure to unfairly tax condominium hotel guests is not the answer. These higher lodging taxes will put our local condominium hotels at a competitive disadvantage in the overall marketplace with higher room taxes than just about everyone else in our market area. It is also true that millions of dollars of the proposed new tax revenues can be used for expenses other than workforce housing. This just isn’t right.
Aspen’s condominium hotels — like Aspen Square, the Gant, Aspen Alps, North of Nell and others — are important to Aspen’s guest economy. Targeting these properties and their guests is no way to improve workforce housing in our town. There are other answers. I urge your “No” vote on 2A.