Letter: Hypocrisy in Eagle County | VailDaily.com
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Letter: Hypocrisy in Eagle County

Beric Christiansen
Gypsum,CO Colorado

It amazes me that the same county and city governments that bemoan the lack of “affordable housing” are the same ones that are doing their best to make housing unaffordable. Gypsum doubles its tap fees in 2007, charges a sales tax fee as part of the permit process and a 1-percent transfer tax. Taxes on empty lots are sky high while developers are waiting to build, thereby driving up the final sale price of a dwelling.

“Affordable housing” requirements are essentially a tax for new projects as they drive up the costs of the other units to cover the return on capital needed to build the project. Then these same governments increase property taxes by 40 percent to make even more housing unaffordable.

As taxes are continuously raised on non-subsidized housing, we are simply redistributing income from those who can’t qualify for a subsidy to those who do qualify. Is it right for the county to increase taxes 30-40 percent for someone with a subprime loan who is barely making their payment so that they are forced to sell now that they can’t afford both an interest rate and tax increase? And who is the grand enforcer of Peter Runyon’s plan to balance the number of second-home owners and local residents ” and who decides on the proper ratio? Also, where does it say that the county should be in the housing business in the first place?

There is no constitutional “right” in this country to own a home and in fact only about 67 percent of the families do. Part of the current subprime mess is a result of people buying houses beyond their means when they should have kept renting, as it was cheaper than ownership. What the county should be doing is figuring a way to work with developers to build smaller, less costly rental units to handle the seasonal influx of employees. They should also be telling companies such as Vail, the Ritz-Carlton, Westin and Four Seasons that if they want employees they need to figure out where they will live and not expect the governments in Eagle County to subsidize their labor costs by transferring money from the rest of us so they can pay lower wages.

The citizens of this county need to keep these issues in mind as they prepare to vote in the next elections.


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