Wolff: 2A bad for Aspen economy
In a town that is supposed to be business-friendly, the 2A tax increase put on the ballot by the Aspen City Council sends the opposite message to local lodging providers and small businesses.
City Council’s STR tax would place a massive tax hike — $12 million per year — on an important part of Aspen’s tourism economy. 2A unfairly singles out visitor-focused condos that are not driving the demand for affordable housing and are not putting pressure on our neighborhoods like other STRs. In addition, 2A does not apply to Aspen’s hotels that compete with condos for visitors.
Adding more taxes on one part of the lodging sector will create a competitive disadvantage with Snowmass, Vail and other mountain destinations. Visitors want the Aspen experience, and we should make visiting and skiing in Aspen available for all incomes. Unfortunately, 2A will make the condos that attract a diversity of travelers to our city less affordable.
Our city’s condos aren’t just for skiers. Many have conference centers and depend on group events and meetings, especially outside of peak seasons. This helps keep Aspen residents employed year-round, not just in the winter and summer. STRs in our Aspen neighborhoods don’t have to worry about this concern. But, our year-round employees will feel the impact as those meetings, events and conferences go to other destinations.
Simply put, 2A will be bad for Aspen’s economy. It will hurt the lodging industry, and the ripple effects will be felt by restaurants and retailers — and their employees. Let’s reject 2A and ask Council to work with the business community to find better solutions to our housing shortages.