Q&A with Blue River mayoral candidate Toby Babich
Editor’s note: Toby Babich is running unopposed for mayor of Blue River.
Do you support setting a local minimum wage?
Based on data that I have been privy to as part of the local minimum wage workgroup, our area already tends to pay well over the current and proposed minimum wage, so I am not under the impression this would benefit our area in any impactful way. However, I do see the value in our community having direct control over our own wage structure and would support a discussion on how we would be able to implement this structure while keeping the wage consistent throughout the county and tying the wage to the state increase index.
Do you think short-term rentals should be taxed at a higher rate than residential homes?
Based on recent discussions around this subject, I do not believe that individuals pushing this plan have articulated the benefit of the plan to our local economies in their estimation, and I do not believe the direct financial impacts to municipalities, counties, businesses or individual homeowners have been fully vetted and quantified. I do not support this plan nor the reasoning that I have heard behind this idea. Short-term rentals are currently a large and impactful revenue source in our local areas that already pay a considerable tax burden between property tax, sales tax, lodging/accommodations tax and ancillary revenue from guests spending money in destination estimated at $2 for every $1 spent on lodging. Short-term rentals are currently a large financial benefit to our local economies, and the idea that we should further tax them seems very unwise.
What do you think needs to be done, if anything, to support the local workforce?
I believe our area does a fairly good job of cultivating and retaining a local workforce, including paying a good wage, providing options for local workforce housing, offering child care assistance and continuing to expand our public transportation options. Of course, more can always be done, and I would say our local government officials are mostly united in our efforts to make Summit County a viable place to work and live for our employees, and we need to continue to keep that a top priority.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing your town today?
Though our community is deficient of the “problems” that plague some of our neighbors, I would say that safety along the Colorado Highway 9 corridor in Blue River has become one of my main focal points moving into 2020. Our Board of Trustees recently composed a list of requests to improve safety along Highway 9 and sent those requests to multiple stakeholders in throughout the state, including the Colorado Department of Transportation, asking these agencies to take immediate measures to improves safety through our Highway 9 corridor. We will continue to monitor and encourage development of safer passage through our “main street” for our wildlife, pedestrians, cyclists and local vehicle traffic.
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