Tax should bring in consistent money for affordable housing
By Mark Reaman
Crested Butte citizens will vote this fall on whether or not to approve a 5 percent excise tax on short-term vacation rentals in town. The Town Council voted unanimously on September 5 to put the measure in front of voters this November.
Basically, an additional 5 percent sales tax will be imposed on short-term rentals in Crested Butte. That would bring the total tax on such a rental to 18.4 percent. The additional money would go into the Crested Butte affordable housing budget “to fund affordable housing programs” and the tax is expected to bring in about $300,000 annually. Had the tax been in place in 2016, about $275,000 would have been collected.
“The council has talked about the relationship between vacation rentals and long-term housing,” said town manager Dara MacDonald.
Mayor Glenn Michel emphasized that the additional tax would not apply to bed-and-breakfasts or hotels in town.
“There is a distinction,” said MacDonald. “Vacation rentals take place in residences instead of in commercial businesses.”
Councilman Jim Schmidt said it was important to note that residences are taxed at a much lower rate than commercial property, so this would help level the playing field.
As part of the resolution passed by the council, the town reserves the right to repeal or reduce the tax if a countywide funding source for affordable housing is enacted.
“I would urge the community to get behind this,” said Michel. “We have heard the good and the bad impacts of vacation rentals on the community. This money will go to help create long-term local housing. This puts us on a path to help what we cherish in this town.”
“I think this is absolutely essential,” added Schmidt. “It gives the town a steady stream of funding for affordable housing and that is important. This is for housing in our town. We have a housing plan with projects that are ready to go. We used to have a lot of town employees living in town when I moved here, and that’s no longer the case. I think this is a fair tax.”
“I agree. A busier town requires more plow drivers, EMTs and cops, for example,” said councilman Jackson Petito. “It is best if they are able to live in town. I urge people to support this.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” said councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
“Short-term rentals are a unique situation. This as a permanent source of funding is appropriate,” said councilman Chris Ladoulis. “The idea of more workers living in town is something we can all support.”
Ladoulis also said some definitions and terms in the affordable and workforce housing realm need to be cleaned up soon.
The council voted 7-0 for the resolution to put the issue on the coming ballot.