Keep Or Abolish EPURA?
To The Editor:
The ballot question on the Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority (EPURA), though seemingly complicated, is really quite simple:
Do we want progress and improvements in our Town to continue OR, do we want to cut back? That’s it.
The latter course would be unwise since we have a tourist based economy with essentially no where else to go. By far the largest part of our town’s general fund comes from sales tax, which generates around $7,000,000/year. Read: Visitors.
Our property tax, of which the town gets around 2.5%, produces only a very modest part of the budget – about $330,000.
It has been said that the town can do just as well without EPURA as with it. This is not true. Even if the same funds were available, which is unlikely, they could not be leveraged in the same way without EPURA.
This is for two reasons: 1.) Bonding based on future revenues and 2.) Partnering with the private sector. As a statutory town (not home rule) the town cannot do either, even if the voters want it to.
In addition, bonds issued by EPURA, unlike any the town may be allowed to issue, do not obligate the town or its citizens in any way. If EPURA were to default (which it never has), the bond owner holds the bag.
One may say: I have no business, only a home. I have no sales to grow and my home property value will be determined more by market forces than by EPURA’s work. So-What’s in it for me?
A thoughtful answer has four parts:
First-Quality of life, the attractiveness and ambience of where we live and the town-supplied services and amenities we enjoy;
Secondly-The low property taxes we pay because of huge sales tax revenue from our visitors;
Third-People come to an attractive, desirable location more, and stay longer, than they do to ones that are less attractive; and
Fourth-When you sell your house, the chance of selling it sooner and for a better price is higher if the neighborhood and town are where people really want to live.
If EPURA is scrapped, your property tax will not go down one cent. Not a penny. This is simply another way of saying that EPURA is not a taxing entity.
There are all kinds of somewhat complicated charts, graphs and figures at hand, including the subtleties of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), but the question on our plate is simply this:
If you want improvements to continue along the same lines they have for the past several years and not slow them down, with fewer tools – fewer assets – with which to make improvements and keep up, then Vote NO by January 12 to Preserve Progress.
Jim Cope, Former Commissioner
Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority