Aspen and 11 other mountain communities that have approved real estate transfer taxes have seen their revenues increase by 84% in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2018 and 2019.
For the 12 mountain communities where voters approved real estate transfer taxes – known as RETTs – in the 1970s and 1980s before the passage of the 1992 Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), the he recent surge in home buying has filled real estate transfer tax coffers. to save levels.
As taxpayer coffers swell, city leaders will tell you, so does the demand on their services, infrastructure and workforce housing.
In November 2021, Aspen voters expanded the use of the RETT beyond the Wheeler Opera House and allowed tax revenue to support arts organizations, artists, and the Red Brick Center for the Arts.
Aspen is also directing RETT revenue toward affordable housing, and the city is completing 79 new affordable housing units that will open next year. The new 280-unit, $390 million Lumberyard housing project is expected to start in 2026, thanks in part to RETT funds.
Aspen City Manager Sara Ott said she is proud that her city council continues to allocate RETT funds for affordable housing. And she knows her town is the envy of many other mountain communities who wish they had piles of property tax revenue to add housing for workers.
Yet no one is betting that the sales tax and RETT hikes are sustainable. Things are slowing down. The high country real estate market finally settles down after two years of frantic buying and selling. Retailers are finding that products are selling a little slower. The same is true for lodge keepers, who are seeing a slight slowdown in occupancy after record gains last year as demand for mountain vacations soared.
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