Letter to the editor: Summit County needs an economic advisory committee
It has been interesting to follow the Summit Board of County Commissioners’ decision to advance a November ballot question that would keep the current Gallagher Amendment residential property tax assessment rate at 7.15% rather than have it fall to 5.88% beginning in 2022. Depending upon your perspective, this is either a tax or a budget cut. Regardless, it may be hard to convince voters to forgo money back in their pockets when many have faced reduced working hours, unemployment and future uncertainty due to the coronavirus.
When I was elected to the Silverthorne Town Council in 2008, times were good, and we were excited about a future downtown. Recession four months later forced the council to postpone wish list items and tighten the budget. We used the economic pause to evaluate what was working and what was not.
Through collaborative effort with the Economic Development Advisory Committee, Silverthorne changed zoning rules, diversified offerings with the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center and created small business grants. Today, Silverthorne stands transformed because we set our town up for future success.
Now, more than ever, Summit County government needs an Economic Advisory Committee to help seasonal businesses survive the loss of revenue and come back stronger, to bolster and diversify its sales tax base, and to take some pressure off property tax collections. Rather than hastily crafted tax measures, an engaged Economic Advisory Committee would be an invaluable tool for vetting proposed local minimum wage changes, aligning workforce housing needs with our changing workforce, building public-private partnerships, exploring child care alliances, and rethinking taxes and revenue sources.
Bruce Butler's column "Common Sense Conversations" publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Butler is a former mayor and council member in Silverthorne, where he has lived for 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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