Denver citizens should Vote “NO” on Referred Question 2C authorizing the permanent extensions of 1.75 percent portions of the city’s lodging and car-rental taxes.
This is simply corporate welfare. The primary beneficiaries of the National Western and the Convention Center are the livestock, agriculture, food and hospitality industries. These huge corporations should pay the major share for the upgrade and maintenance of the facilities.
There has been no hard analysis of the benefits of this project presented to the voters. The City of Denver will be spending over $1,000 on the National Western Project for every man, woman and child in the city of Denver. In total the National Western expansion is expected to cost $856 million. Of that, $673 million, more than $1,000 for every person in the city, will be city spending. We will pay for the rest as state taxpayers.
Even if this project produces 1,500 new jobs, we would be paying $500,000 per job. There has been no analysis presented to show that most citizens will receive at least $1,000 in benefits from this project.
There has been no analysis presented of alternative ways that this money could be spent which would be more beneficial to the citizens of Denver. Once this money is spent it is gone forever. Simple economic rationality would require examination of multiple uses for it. Denver is in need of money for affordable housing, assistance to needy individuals and families, streets, bike lanes, parks, recreation facilities, police and fire protection, improving the jail and a host of other services.
The City’s 11 Council Districts could each receive over $70 million for local improvements with the money that the City is planning to spend on the National Western and the Convention Center. The Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods need more residents to facilitate private investment in a super-market and other retail outlets. The National Western site could provide land for a Lowry or Stapleton type redevelopment.
Before an extension of the Lodger’s Tax and Car Rental Tax is approved, an analysis should be done of alternative ways the money could be spent, and the land used, to better serve Denver citizens.
Referred Question 2C requires voting for the National Western Complex and the Convention Center Expansion together. These are separate issues and should be voted on separately.
This is a new tax. The Colorado Constitution only requires new taxes to be placed on the ballot. If it wasn’t a new tax you wouldn’t be voting on it.
This tax will be paid by Denver citizens. There is no such thing as free money. When one city raises taxes on tourists, other cities do the same. Denver citizens will pay this tax indirectly when they pay lodgers’ taxes and car-rental taxes in other cities that raise taxes in retaliation for Denver imposing a tax on their citizens.
This tax has no end date. The proponents of this tax tell you that it is intended to pay for expansion of the National Western and the Convention Center. But, it has no cutoff date when those bonds are paid off. It is a tax in perpetuity to use in whatever ways the insiders believe is in their best interests.
For all of these reasons Denver citizens should vote “NO” on Referred Question 2C.
Thad Tecza is a Denver citizen.