Marolt: Spelling SVRC with an ‘R,’ an ‘E’ andtwo ‘T’s
Who doesn’t like the Snowmass Village Rec Center (SVRC)? I love it! It looks to me like everyone else who uses it is happy or at least satisfied. I think the folks at the Snowmass Club must like it since it got all the local riff-raff out of their hair to keep their toupee of exclusivity and prestige in tact. I imagine even those who don’t use it think it’s cool because it improves the dispositions of lots of neighbors.
It’s clean, it’s well-maintained, the staff is friendly, and, if the price is unfair at all, it is so in favor of its members. That may be the best thing about the SVRC — it is highly subsidized through taxes. When you visit there for a swim or a workout, to play a little tennis or volleyball, or even to pick up a few scabs on the knee and elbow joints at the skate park, most likely you will feel like you got more than your money’s worth, especially considering lots of the activities I just mentioned are monetarily free and the highest price anybody pays is through exertion and muscle tenderness.
I know it’s usually considered to be like roasting marshmallows on a fire started with the bag they came in to talk about taxes subsidizing public amenities that not everybody or even most people take advantage of, but in the case of the SVRK subsidy, its cost is heavily covered by the best kind of tax possible: a real estate transfer tax (RETT).
An income tax is disproportionately paid for mostly by people who are afraid to lie to the Internal Revenue Service or Homeland Security about offshore bank accounts. It makes sense that honest people get worked up about this kind of tax because it kicks them hard in the butt.
Property taxes are assessed according to the value of real estate you (or your bank) own. The people who get singed by this one most are locals who live in expensive real estate that is leveraged to the attic. Too bad it’s not based on built-up equity instead of total value, right? The nice thing is that owners of super-expensive lifestyle estates that are all about show pay a huge amount to cover stuff lots of them use very little and that exists mostly for the common good of the working stiff.
One tax locals in resort towns like Snowmass Village can really get excited about is the sales tax. Since most people who live here buy more of the things they need and almost everything they want the closer they get to places like Glenwood, Grand Junction or their personal computers, this tax is almost the exclusive burden of tourists. Stick it to ’em, baby!
Locals even get a $50 rebate every year for sales taxes we supposedly dish out buying locally. I don’t keep track, but between Clark’s Market’s proud pricing on their humble selection of groceries, the Conoco’s premium cost for regular gas and the Viceroy’s $20 hamburgers, I bet I don’t rack up $50 of local sales tax annually. If this is true and I’m somewhat typical, the sales tax rebate might be a money maker for a lot of Villagers. I’m sure that’s a tax we can all get behind.
In fact, the biggest problem is that the sales tax is such a good mechanism for generating money, we’ve already jacked it up to an attention-grabbing double digit rate that we can’t boost much higher. I mean, this well isn’t likely to dry up, but we simply can’t drill any deeper. If we go any higher with the sales tax rate, it’s just a little more incentive for our visitors to head into Aspen for shopping and dining, which they are already prone to do.
This leaves the best tax of all to fund things like the SVRC — the RETT. This is a property tax based on the sales price of real estate, but it has very few of the practical disadvantages of a property tax, namely sticking it to the people who live here. The RETT is basically a big tax on people who, until very recently, lived here. A nice way to look at it is like a harmless prank at a going away party. Everyone knows it’s coming, so you might as well suck it up and laugh. Lots of people who sell their property here laugh all the way to the bank anyway. What’s one more little chuckle?
Roger Marolt likes acronyms that pay for locals. Roger@maroltllp.com
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