Public poll on short-term rental tax begins this week in Aspen

If you are a registered voter in Aspen and receive a text or phone call next week, you should respond to it if you want to determine if there should be a 13% tax on short-term rentals in the city. .

Public polling on a potential ballot question for the November election begins today by FrederickPolls.

The city of Aspen contracted the Utah-based polling firm earlier this year for $12,500.

Keith Frederick, founder of FrederickPolls, said he had received more than 40 questions from the city last week and his company would start texting cellphones of registered voters on Monday referencing the city government’s request for comment. on a possible question of vote.

Calls will start coming in from Wednesday and last until Monday, Frederick said.

“Answer the phone because it’s a legitimate opinion poll,” he said. “There is a bit of exploration in the questions…value questions about short-term regulations and different types of vacation rentals.”

City Manager Sara Ott said the questions centered on:

  • if people think there should be a tax;
  • at what rate;
  • should the residential property rate be taken into account when properties are used for commercial purposes;
  • and if a tax were to pass, what would the revenues be used for.

The city’s financiers have plenty of ideas on how the tax revenue, estimated at 11 million a year at a rate of 13%, could be spent.

Funding is needed for affordable housing, as well as capital projects such as the renovation of the old armory and the replacement of infrastructure under the downtown pedestrian malls, as well as the replacement of parts of the stormwater system and city bridges.

The 13% rate was determined by considering a few factors, one being the inequity of tax rates on the assessed value of residential properties compared to commercial properties.

The property tax rate for commercial owners is much higher than for residential owners, with the latter benefiting because their homes are used for business purposes, said chief financial officer Pete Strecker.

In a presentation he made to the Aspen City Council in June, Strecker said the difference in property tax revenue is $4.46 million, which equates to a 5.4% tax.

Second, using the 65% affordable housing mitigation rate for short-term rental accommodation used for business purposes that generates employees results in a tax rate of 7.7% per night that would generate $6.4 million.

The current combined sales tax rate in the city is 11.3%, so if the city government asked voters to adopt a 13% rate on short-term rentals, tourists staying in these accommodations could pay a total of 24.4% taxes.

The city council recently passed an ordinance regulating short-term rentals, capping the number of permits that can be issued, the number of permits that can be in specific areas of the city, and the length of time they can be rented.

In December, the council imposed an emergency moratorium on the issuance of new short-term rental permits until the end of September so city officials could rein in a fast-growing industry they say has created unmitigated growth in community and neighborhood impacts.

A new permit system, enforcement regime and operational standards have been designed to increase owner and manager accountability to ensure their property and guests support neighborhood character, and reduce and mitigate impacts on the community.

Authorized properties are also subject to inspections and the application of regulations in terms of personal safety, occupancy, nuisance and good neighbourliness.

The new rules will come into effect on July 29 and licensing for 2023 will be accepted after that date.

Council agreed to retain existing short-term rental permits in all areas, freezing the current market in place.

Staff will use Non-Portability, Forfeiture, and Execution to reach the capped amount through attrition over time.

Frederick said he expects the telephone inquiry into a possible tax to take between 11 and 13 minutes.

Based on the number of registered voters in Aspen, which hovers just under 6,000, 250 respondents will provide a representative sample, Frederick said.

“You’re such a small community, so it’s a legitimate percentage of the population,” he said.

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