It will be more expensive to die in Basalt in 2023 and it will be more expensive to operate short-term rentals in Basalt, though the two aren’t necessarily related.
In its normal course of occasionally increasing fees for town services, the Basalt Town Council voted Tuesday night to raise burial fees at Fairview Cemetery and it cranked up licensing fees for short-term rental residences.
Starting next year, a cemetery plot will cost $500 for residents living within the town limits and $2,000 for residents outside town limits but living within the 81621 and 81642 zip codes. People who live outside of town and the zip codes will pay $5,000 for eternal peace at Fairview.
The old fee schedule was $250 for residents of the 81621 and 81642 zip codes, regardless of whether they lived within the town limits. Everyone outside the zip codes paid $3,500.
The “perpetual care” fee for taking care of a plot increased from $750 to $1,000. It is collected at the time of death but can be waived or reduced for hardship cases at the town manager’s discretion.
The council approved the new cemetery fees with no comment. The licensing fee for short-term rentals spurred a livelier discussion. The town government is investing in software that will help it track STR listings in the town.
“To implement this software, town staff recommends that the STR business license fee be amended from $25 per year to $300 per year,” a memo from Town Manager Ryan Mahoney to the council says.
In a discussion with the board, Mahoney said Basalt has roughly 10 licensed STRs. Staff research indicates there are actually between 40 and 80 residences being rented out short term within town limits, he said.
The software will scan 40 reservation sites and automatically notify the town government when it finds an STR that isn’t licensed. The revenue from the increased fee will help cover the expense of the software and staff timing administering the overview.
“The proposed GovOS Software has an annual cost of $12,031 for 2023,” Mahoney’s memo said. “If 40 STRs are assumed, the new proposed STR business license fee would just about cover the cost of the software.”
In addition to the $300 fee, owners of STRs will pay $10 for a sales tax license and $150 for an annual safety inspection by the town’s building department.
Mahoney said the higher fee will “level the playing field” between previously licensed STRs and those operating without a license. In addition, it will help level the playing field between STRs and lodges, which pay commercial property tax rates, he said.
Once the town figures out how many STRs are actually operating, the staff and council will assess if any policy changes are necessary in regulating the businesses. Numerous Colorado mountain towns have implemented fees on STRs recently and some have capped the licenses that will be issued.
“At this point we’re testing the waters,” Mahoney said. “We’re not proposing any policy changes at this time.”
Both the cemetery fees and STR fees were passed 6-0 by the council with one absence. Various other fees and fines also were increased for the first time since 2019.
By: Scott Condon I Aspen Daily News I November 24, 2022