Don’t sell short nonprofits like Ascendigo |

Don’t sell short nonprofits like Ascendigo

Several letters have been published recently about the proposed Ascendigo Ranch at Missouri Heights. Those opposed have brought up the issue of property taxes as a basis for Garfield County to deny Ascendigo’s land use application. Opponents claim that because Ascendigo is a nonprofit organization exempt from property tax, the county should deny the application and allow the alternative-use option — a housing subdivision.

This argument is a slippery slope that can impact all 200-plus Roaring Fork Valley nonprofits.

While it is true that nonprofit organizations are generally not required to pay property taxes, what is not considered in this argument is the significant economic benefit that nonprofits bring to our local economy.

For example, Ascendigo is one of Carbondale’s largest employers, employing approximately 60 individuals year-round, and many more on a seasonal basis. The organization shops with local vendors, pays rent to local landlords (who in turn pay property taxes), and partners with local service providers. Clients of Ascendigo and their families eat at local restaurants and shop in local stores. And many who come to town for the seasonal programs offered by Ascendigo stay in area hotels and vacation rentals, including those in Missouri Heights. The many benefits brought by Ascendigo to our local economy far surpass the singular benefit of property taxes that would be generated from a new housing development.

The Roaring Fork Valley has a long history of supporting the nonprofit sector, and nonprofits have rewarded residents with not only amazing services, but also with substantial economic benefits. If we didn’t allow nonprofits to occupy our valley’s real estate, we would not enjoy such beloved amenities as Colorado Mountain College, ACES’ Rock Bottom Ranch, WindWalkers, Spring Gulch Nordic Center, Anderson Ranch, our local hospitals, as well as the many other important community resources brought to us by the nonprofit community. Ascendigo Ranch will be another of these treasured community resources once the Board of County Commissioners approves this important use.

Michael Carter