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What would you do if you received a coupon in the mail for 70% off a bunch of things you really need? This discount coupon could help you make progress on some difficult problems that you knew you faced. What if they were big problems like employee housing, affordable child care, middle class wage growth and job diversity in a resort economy? Voters in Eagle County received that 70% off coupon in their mailbox in October. It’s the ballot initiative for 5A and 5B. The facts behind why it’s a 70% off coupon are readily available at the Eagle County website. You can download it here and check my numbers for yourself.
The document is a listing of all Eagle County property records and their valuations. It’s fascinating reading if you’re into big data and facts; not so exciting if you are looking for spin and innuendo. One important thing that comes out of that data is that Eagle County is not like most counties, but I imagine if you have spent much time here you know that already. Eagle County is a wonderful place to live, but it is expensive and we have significant issues with the cost of living driven by issues like housing and child care, which are exacerbated by a lack of good jobs that aren’t directly tied to the resort industry.
I don’t want to overstate the facts so I’ll try and put it as honestly as I can. I am making my assumptions based on where the tax bills are sent, but simply put, most of the property value in Eagle County is not owned by residents of Eagle County. By most I mean more than 60% of the value of Eagle County property is billed to addresses outside of Eagle County. There is actually over a billion dollars worth of property that is owned by people outside the US, sure from Mexico, but also from Australia, Europe, Hong Kong and of course LLC’s in the Cayman Islands. Florida gets a lot of Eagle County tax bills for over 4 billion dollars worth of property. The financial nexus of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut has a significant impact as well. I personally don’t see anything wrong with this investment in our county and I’m glad that these people love our Valley enough to invest in it.
Of the 38% of the total Eagle County property value whose bills are mailed to Eagle County addresses, a number are sent to local law firms and management firms so it becomes difficult to understand who is actually paying those bills. Then a great deal of the remaining portion is owned by large employers and companies who have offices in Eagle County. What this adds up to is that individual homeowners, the long-term residents of Eagle County, pay somewhere less than 30% of the money that will be raised by 5A and 5B. This is money that is being used to solve some of the most difficult problems facing our county. Property tax in Eagle County definitely affects local homeowners, but 5A and 5B represent millions of new dollars brought into the county from outside, paid by corporations and wealthy individuals who can afford and indeed in many cases openly support solutions to our community’s biggest challenges.
There is no debate that 5A and 5B are a real cost to local homeowners and at a less than ideal time. However, we can decide that we want to move forward with initiatives that are paid for by a wide swath of the people that enjoy Eagle County. We can use the out of county money to make our valley more liveable for residents, invest in housing and stand with important middle class jobs. Otherwise we can find ways to pay these high costs by ourselves, sacrificing other opportunities, or we can just keep complaining that we are somehow more prosperous by doing nothing.
This is a one time offer! The numbers are real. For every 3 dollars contributed by Eagle County, we get 7 more dollars from outside the county. If you want to move forward, check yes on 5B and 5B, sign and drop off your 70% off coupon at a ballot drop today!