Taxes versus the right to vote
BRECKENRIDGE<Figures don’t lie, but they’re easy to use as a sticking point because they’re tangible.And in the case of the Warrior’s Mark annexation proposal and what it could mean for taxpayers in that neighborhood, numbers<taxes<are easier to argue about than the less-tangible advantages of annexing into the town of Breckenridge. Some of those include the right to vote and participate in town government.If the annexation proposal currently before the town council is approved by Warrior’s Mark voters, it will cost the owner of a $300,000 home less than $200 a year in property and sales taxes to the town. That doesn’t include a one-time $235 cost that might be needed to purchase land for snowplow turnarounds, Real Estate Transfer Taxes (RETT) when a home is sold or lodging taxes for short-term rentals.But the $196 property tax increase is something annexation opponents are using to address their point, which is that they don’t want to be annexed into the town of Breckenridge, they said at a neighborhood meeting Thursday afternoon.They also maintain the $2.3 million the town estimates it will cost to incorporate Warrior’s Mark into the town will cost residents there $5,600 in property and RETT taxes. Town officials say that figure is misleading, as the cost to annex a neighborhood is shared among all taxpayers.The principleUltimately, however, the argument may not be about dollars.”A lot of people bought in the county purposely,” said Dee Phelps, a Warrior’s Mark resident opposed to the annexation. “They’re not happy about this issue coming up again and again.”Numerous e-mails Phelps has received from second homeowners in the past several weeks point to the unknowns surrounding the annexation. Some wonder if they can vote (property owners, whether they live here or not, can vote on issues that directly affect their property). Others say the advantages of being in the county outweigh those of being in the town.Annexation proponents said the benefits of being able to vote and participate in government activities outweigh the increase in taxes homeowners would see. But it’s hard to pit philosophical issues like voting against dollar figures like taxes.”Maybe those who’d like to get involved in city government should move into the city, and leave the rest of us in the county where we are provided with a wonderful lifestyle,” wrote one opponent.Bob Behmer, a resident of Upper Warriors’ Mark, agrees.He questioned the ability of the town public works department to maintain roads as well as the county does now. He said he doesn’t think town police could respond to Warrior’s Mark as quickly as sheriff’s officers do<particularly if town law enforcement is busy with crowd control at the end of a busy ski day, or helping at an event.He doesn’t like the idea of paying taxes twice<once to the county and again to the town<for services such as road maintenance and snowplowing.”The county’s loving this deal,” said Lance Hillis of the town’s finance department. “They’d be giving up the services without losing the money. But that’s the way it is in all the towns.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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