Our View: Yes to Avon rental tax | VailDaily.com

Our View: Yes to Avon rental tax

Adequate workforce housing has always been a problem in Eagle County, but the current situation may be as bad as it’s ever been.

With that in mind, local governments are putting serious resources into addressing the problem. But what’s needed is a stable revenue source.

Both Vail and Avon this fall are asking voters to approve new revenue streams to help fund housing initiatives.

Avon’s proposal is a new, 2% tax on short-term rentals. According to the ballot language, that levy would raise $1.5 million in its first year. There’s no expiration date included in the request.

For most of us, $1.5 million is a lot of money. In the big scheme of things, though, $1.5 million won’t buy much in the way of housing projects, even with years of collections. But $1.5 million per year is a good amount to back revenue bonds or participate in partnerships.

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Those partnerships can involve either private developers or other local governments, although working with the private sector seems to provide more bang for the buck.

The Avon tax proposal is a type generally favored by voters: one that someone else pays. In addition, it’s popular to blame short-term rentals for the valley’s current housing shortage.

Short-term rentals certainly contribute to the lack of housing. A former Vail Daily staffer had to move four times in five years because landlords decided to convert their long-term rentals to short-term use.

On the other hand, many owners short-term their property, so they can use those units themselves from time to time. That’s been the case since the ski industry’s earliest days. The difference, of course, is reach. Little classified ads in big-city newspapers have become internet listings with photos and global reach.

It can be somewhat difficult to track just who’s renting out their units. Still, tracking and registration systems exist — at the cost of a bit more town staff time.

Short-term rentals aren’t the only cause of our current housing crunch — there isn’t much inventory, and many owners are also moving to the valley full-time. Many units in the short-term pool have never been used as long-term rentals. But the increase in short-term rentals has affected the valley’s rental stock. It seems fair to have guests of those units pay a bit more to help house those who take care of everyone who visits the valley.

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