Marolt: Unfortunately, Base Village taxes are Base Village owners’ problem
So, owners of property in the alleged Snowmass Base Village development are steamed about their property taxes that include assessments to cover special taxing district charges to fund the operations of Base Village infrastructure that reportedly exceed $3 per square foot annually for residential properties. Wow! That’s a hefty charge for pretty much nothing in return.
It’s yet another reason to feel taken advantage of if you bought early and often when you believed you saw your ship sailing in on the tide that was supposed to lift all Villagers’ boats. It was a poor metaphor for a landlocked town in the mountains. A better one would have been: Gravity pulls all stones downhill with equal force.
Am I sympathetic? Absolutely. Do I have a solution for them? Yes — suck it up.
The chain of developers from Aspen Skiing Co. to Intrawest to whatever the latest responsibility-dodging, debt-skipping, legal-shield incarnation of an affiliate of Related Westpac is calling itself these days has stuck it to their customers. Through a combination of big talk and small print they schmoozed potential buyers to get in on the ground floor of the project that stopped there and, in the process, got them to agree to foot the bill for these renaissance-worthy extractions historically reserved for the peons.
I’m not saying that the owners are blameless. They clearly jumped the gun and ended up staring down its barrel and might have relied on Cliffs Notes to complete their homework before buying into “The Dream on Fanny Hill” at the peak of the hottest real estate market this country might ever see. All the same, the developers pulled a fast one on them by putting together a Gordian knot of special tax districts that appear to basically fund many of the community benefits that they were supposed to deliver to us, the other residents of Snowmass Village, in exchange for approving the concrete curtain that separated our town from peace and reality.
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The most notable of these amenities are the transportation center, which currently serves an arguably good purpose in the community, and the proposed aquatic center, which seemed like a good idea in 2007 when the Snowmass Club was chasing locals from its membership rolls and before the recreation center was built, but no longer makes any sense at all.
The obvious injustice is that a few property owners in Base Village are footing the bill for things that we all benefit from, or at least theoretically might someday. This is clearly not fair. But, what allows the rest of us to keep our consciences clear and our checkbooks in our pockets is that this is exactly what everyone agreed to, except, of course, the 49 percent who voted against Base Village and whom, if a dozen more voters would have come to their senses and stayed registered in the places they actually lived, would have saved everyone this entire headache and many other mental anguishes on top of it, too.
Let me say this a different way: There is no way in this false-fronted world we call Snowmass Village that this huge tax burden created through the existence of Base Village should ever be transferred to the general population of Snowmass Village property owners. Never! Ever!! Should we ever consider a sales tax to help cover it? Not a chance! A transfer tax of some sort or another. Are you kidding me? A loan from the town? A gift? No, No, NO! This is not a tax for the masses. No pun intended. No joking at all!
The worst case scenario is a Base Village taxpayer revolt that results in all the properties reverting back to Related Whatever Amalgamated, LLC, which has no money, and the whole project falling into disrepair and physically collapsing. Who would notice?
As sympathetic as we might be to the Base Village property owners, Related and all related entities excepted, the general population of Snowmass Village should not be dragged into this dispute. The bottom line is that I am sympathetic to the property owners at Base Village, but aside from moral support, I do not believe any other support for their cause is warranted.
Go, Base Village property owners! I’m rooting for you even more than I was rooting for the Viceroy would-have-been owners who were lied to over the square footage they thought they were buying there. I hope your lawyers help you transfer your troubles back to the developer. They deserve it. Just don’t ask us for any money!
Roger Marolt smells trouble brewing, and it’s not coming from the wastewater treatment plant this time. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This weekend we go local. After the bacchanalia that was the Food & Wine Classic last week, we turn to Snowmass for a kinder, gentler wine gathering as the 19th Snowmass Wine Festival gets underway.