Q&A: Breckenridge mayoral candidates share their views on liveability for the local workforce | SummitDaily.com
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Q&A: Breckenridge mayoral candidates share their views on liveability for the local workforce

Breckenridge mayoral candidates Eric Mamula, from left, James Manella and Nate Nadler.
Courtesy photos

Do you support setting a local minimum wage?

As a restaurant owner/operator in our town, I have a stake in the outcome of this discussion from a business standpoint, but I also realize the needs of our employees to succeed with the high costs of living in Breckenridge. That is why as a business owner, I start new employees at the $15 suggested minimum. And as a member of the Breckenridge Town Council, I have continuously pushed for attainable housing and child care assistance to help our locals. The state legislation that gives local government the opportunity to raise local minimum wages is flawed, but I am encouraged that the Capitol has been willing to hear our concerns and possibly work toward a legislative fix. Raising the minimum wage to $15 alone will not fix our employees’ problems. As a town, we need to continue to build attainable housing, both for sale and for rent, support child care assistance, work with our partners on health care solutions and continue to work on the challenges our locals face.

— Eric Mamula

Yes to a minimum wage increase. The Breckenridge Tourism Office is funded by the town of Breckenridge. The Tourism Office is incredibly successful at drawing events to town, maybe too successful according to recent surveys of residents who would like to see fewer events in order to achieve a slower, less crowded pace and a break from some of the many alcohol-centered functions. The success of the Tourism Office drives revenue into every local business. Should the benefits of a taxpayer-sponsored marketing effort stop before rewarding every single worker? I say a taxpayer-sponsored marketing effort demands rewarding all. The cost of living also demands a higher wage. Furthermore, a Town Council that voted to increase its own taxpayer-funded compensation should vote to increase the wages of the workers, as well. I am in favor of a $15 minimum wage. I might support an exemption policy in extreme cases i.e., nonprofits, very small revenue business or hobby businesses. Almost all businesses would be required to compensate workers at $15 per hour for a 40 hour workweek then increasing with overtime. There should be no incremental implementation of this policy. I would also support a referendum.

— James Manella

I do support setting a proper minimum wage. But we would have to do a study in order to make it a proper wage so that the workforce can afford the high cost of living as well as keeping it a safe level for business owners to feel they don’t have a burden on their business in order to employ people. We would also have to look into tipped positions as well in this study to find a proper wage. 

— Nate Nadler

Do you think short-term rentals should be taxed at a higher rate than residential homes?

I don’t believe that short-term rental owners should be taxed at a higher rate than residential homes. But the possibility of taxing the short-term renters would be a good source of income to go toward child care or workforce housing programs. Considering that in order to run a short-term rental you do need housekeeping, maintenance, hire a property manager and so on. Short-term rentals are part of Breckenridge. Without our guests, we wouldn’t have jobs for our workforce and taxes for our town. 

— Nate Nadler

Perhaps one of the most complex issues facing Breckenridge today is the emergence of a robust short-term rental market. The popularity of third-party accommodation sites and the ease they afford to second-home owners to make money from what might have been a cost center continues to challenge municipalities around the world. No two cities are the same, so each individual approach to regulation will be different. I support the current town of Breckenridge Public Accommodation Tax of 3.4% in addition to 2.5% sales tax on short-term rentals of less than 30 days. According to The Sustainable Economies Law Center, “The goal of short-term rental policies should generate inclusive opportunities for local wealth creation while still balancing the needs of all members of the community.”

— James Manella

Breckenridge is a short-term rental vacation town. We don’t have an abundance of hotels, so we rely on the short-term pool of units to house our guests. There are two types of short-term rentals in our town: condo-style short-term rentals that provide hotel-type amenities and single-family home short-term rentals that are intertwined with our residential neighborhoods. Both create impacts in town, but the single-family short-term rentals create impacts in our neighborhoods that affect the livability for our locals and second-home owners. Two years ago, we enacted policies toward addressing neighborhood noise, trash and parking problems, including creating a hotline for complaints and a process for owners and managers to immediately resolve them. It has been largely successful, but we recognize there are larger issues of having a short-term rentals business next to someone’s home. And there is no doubt that the increase in Airbnb and VRBO rentals has severely decimated our long-term housing stock. A jump to a 29% commercial rate on short-term rentals may have too many unintended consequences, but any change is up to the state Legislature. The town has no say in the decision.

— Eric Mamula

Should the town build more workforce housing or focus on incentivizing homeowners to convert short-term rentals to long-term rentals?

There is no one solution to our housing woes. The town has been successful in efforts to increase attainable housing, having built or assisted with the building of over 1,000 attainable units over the past 10 years alone. But land is in short supply, so we can’t build our way out of this problem. That is why the town has developed two new programs: The first is a buy-down program that allows the town to buy for-sale units, place a deed restriction on the unit that forbids it from being short-term rented, then sells the unit at a reduced price. The second program is called Housing Helps, and it gives locals 10%-15% of the value of their home in exchange for a deed restriction that disallows the unit from being short-term rented. This program is in its infancy, but we feel strongly that it will succeed. The town also uses our planning process to incentivize developers to build attainable housing. The council is currently looking at planning code changes that will force developers to supply a larger percentage of housing to mitigate the impacts of their developments.

— Eric Mamula

I know that the town of Breckenridge does need more workforce housing in the valley, but I don’t think the town should be building these units. I feel that offering builders or contractors the opportunity to build these larger complexes on maybe some town donated land or other incentives could be the best solution so that the town’s money can be spent on more child care facilities and programs. The town and county have rolled out a program called Housing Helps, which is a great option to incentivize homeowners to keep their property for long-term rentals vs. short-term rentals. Continuing to invest in these programs also will help our workforce housing shortage. We need to attack this in as many angles as possible. 

— Nate Nadler

I believe local governments should, to the extent possible, encourage public-private partnerships to address the growing need for affordable housing. We are extremely fortunate, and I am grateful to our competent and dedicated mayor and Town Council as well as Summit County government for currently addressing the housing issues on the public and private ownership fronts.

— James Manella

How should the town address the lack of funding for child care?

Another perplexing issue is the government’s role in child care for working families. Child care is expensive, and the waiting list of families seeking assistance grows. One of our town of Breckenridge vision statements declares our community will be diverse and inclusive. This means we support and encourage the notion that families of different ethnic and economic origins are welcome members of our community. Striving for this ideal makes our community strong and our children healthy and free. I support a tax increase on marijuana sales to increase funding for child care assistance programs.

— James Manella

The town has historically funded support for child care out of the general fund, but that is not sustainable. We need to find a reliable source of income to assist Breckenridge residents and employees who have young children so that they are not driving to other communities, unnecessarily impacting the highway, for day care. The town is currently examining its land holdings with the desire to use some of the county’s 1A Strong Future funding to build a new child care center. In the future, the town may need to ask the voters to approve a sustainable funding source.

— Eric Mamula

I think the town can address the child care shortage by a small tax on the short-term renters. There are other ways to acquire these funds as well through grants and fundraising. But every bit will help. I would love to see two more schools in the valley. 

— Nate Nadler

What do you think is the biggest problem facing your town today?

Workforce housing and child care along with Breck’s infrastructure and the traffic. Looking for a way to mitigate traffic up Ski Hill Road and around town during heavy traffic times. The town of Breckenridge has stated it wants to be 100% sustainable by 2040. That in and of itself is a huge task. 

— Nate Nadler

Overdevelopment, crowding, safety and crime. For me, some of the biggest problems facing our town include risks associated with fast-paced development that contributes to the erosion of our town character, detracts from safety and security along with upsetting the local population. Reasonable development controls will help.

Wildfire is on my radar as a particular threat to not only our lives and livelihoods but also to our fragile ecosystem and clean water supply. While our new water treatment plant should enable us to continue to produce quality clean water, the threat of devastating, unforeseen wildfires exists today. Wildfire can ruin our economy. Measures to plan for protection of life and property are a priority for me that I hope we never need to implement.

— James Manella

Livability. Our ability as locals to live in a town we love, while making a living on a tourist economy yet not allowing its worst impacts to negatively affect our lives. It’s a tough challenge. Our proximity to Denver, a massive surge in the growth of the Front Range and a healthy economy affect us negatively and positively. We strive for balance, using tools like our Destination Management Plan crafted by the very people who live here and put into motion by council. A diverse, focused and accessible council that ensures that Breckenridge works for locals in both good times and challenging ones is the best solution to any problem we face.

— Eric Mamula


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