Vote no on 2A
I love the Wheeler, the Red Brick and Aspen’s long and substantial commitment to the arts, but Wheeler real estate transfer tax collections, which averaged $4.1 million per year from 2011 to 2019 and exploded to over $9 million per year in 2020 and 2021, provides way, way more support than is needed or appropriate for the public to provide to the arts.
In addition to hefty annual collection of RETT, the Wheeler has a $40 million “endowment” that provides a very substantial cushion against periodic downturns in real estate sales and therefore RETT collections. Correspondingly, while the resources to maintain the Wheeler and subsidize its operations are in hand, 2A puts protection of the Wheeler solely in the hands of future city councils. Yes, Wheeler RETT maximum support of the arts should be increased above $100,000, but 2A, if passed, would remove any limitations on public arts funding and allow for an increase in public support of the arts, other than the Wheeler, to go from about $400,000 annually to potentially over $4 million annually and based on 2019 and 2020 Wheeler RETT, more than $9 million!
We, the public, should provide support for the arts, but the City Council has rushed a vote on repurposing the Wheeler endowment to solely and excessively support the arts community. The City Council, with robust public input, should evaluate if the incredible golden goose of the Wheeler RETT should only support the arts or if other community needs such as health and human services, child care, affordable housing, and other needs of the broader community should be supported by this established funding source.
Please vote no on 2A, the City Council’s rushed November ballot repurposing proposal. Send a message to the City Council to do the work necessary to determine the amount of money needed for the long-term support and maintenance of the Wheeler and what’s the best and most responsible use of left over Wheeler RETT dollars.