Maple: Enough is enough with open spending
I love and use city, county, and federal open spaces as well as recreation facilities over 250 days per year.
The City of Aspen Parks and Open Space program has been funded by a 1% sales tax since 1970. In 2000, an additional 0.5% sales tax was added to fund open-space acquisitions as well as recreational facilities.
In 2021, these sales taxes totaled $15.4 million. 2021 Pitkin County open-space property taxes added another $13.9 million — for a total of nearly $30 million in annual community funding dedicated to parks and open space.
Since initiating the city’s (and county’s) open-space acquisition programs, all key open-space acquisitions have been completed including the Smuggler, Cozy Point, Sky Mountain, and many other parcels.
Since 2011, the city has expended just $5.3 million on parks and open-space acquisitions, with 40% of these funds being contributed to open-space acquisitions outside the city limits. The city parks and open-space fund balance has ballooned to over $14 million. The county fund balance adds another $32 million.
It is time to recognize that the open-space acquisition programs have succeeded in acquiring all key open space parcels, and, therefore, parks and open-space funding needs have declined.
The original 1% parks and open-space sales tax, producing over $10 million per year combined with a $14 million fund balance, is more than enough to fund the city’s parks, open-space, and recreation facility needs.
Vote “no” on permanently extending the additional 0.5% parks and open-space sales tax.