Housing – Unedited

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his “Council candidates outline housing plans” article in the 8/3/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina: What is the best option for Jackson to produce more affordable housing — public/private partnerships, zoning/land development regulations, tax incentives, the free market etc?

Judd Grossman: The best option to produce workforce housing is to implement a Workforce Housing Overlay in the walkable urban commercial core of Jackson. In this overlay we should allow significant density bonuses exclusively for employment based deed-restricted housing. These units should be limited in size. They should have few restrictions other than that the resident is employed full time in the local economy, and the parking requirement should be reduced or waived on these units. Parking requirements are the biggest road block to density, and density is the key to affordability. The Workforce Housing Overlay will give employers and employees the opportunity to take care of their own housing needs without relying on massive unsustainable public subsidies, and without exacerbating our traffic problems.

When businesses ask the public to subsidize housing expenses for their private employees that’s corporate welfare. The last thing we should be doing is subsidizing businesses to make it easier for them to expand and add to our glut of jobs. Employers need to step up to the plate and pay their employees higher wages, or subsidize their housing directly. The government needs to step up and provide zoning incentives through a Workforce Housing Overlay that will create the density necessary for employment based deed restricted housing to be affordable.

John Spina: If funds are not secured through the general sales tax, how can the town find money to support housing projects, or should it stay out housing development all together?

Judd Grossman:  Town government should stay out of the business of providing housing for the private sector, and instead focus aggressively on providing housing for it’s own employees. We are all stakeholders in the public sector, so it’s reasonable to use tax dollars to subsidize public employee housing. The current initiatives to add public employee housing to the Parks and Rec maintenance building and to the START bus barn are excellent uses of public funds. Providing housing for public sector workers has the added benefit of opening up housing stock for private sector workers.

SPET is the perfect vehicle for funding further public sector employee housing initiatives. That’s why we need to defeat the blank check General Excise Tax increase in November and reinstate SPET, so that we can fund community priorities with community oversight.

John Spina:  Any creative ideas to quickly alleviate pressure — in-town camping, temporary trailers, driggs/victor/alpine?

Judd Grossman:  I do not support in-town camping, or temporary trailers. Commuting from out of county is always going to be part of the long term housing solution, and can take some of the pressure off in the short term, as well.

We need to stop subsidizing business and stop expanding development rights. Our overheated economy is drawing thousands of workers to town who then compete with locals for housing. Just because we currently have an overheated economy and employers have expanded without accounting for how to house their workers doesn’t mean that we have to turn our stable neighborhoods into campgrounds, or approve reckless haphazard development that blows up the Comprehensive Plan.

John Spina:  Feelings on ARUs?

Judd Grossman:  ARUs are perfectly reasonable in the areas of town that have multi-famly zoning. ARUs allow incremental expansion of the housing supply without the need for complete redevelopment.

I oppose ARUs in the Town Periphery and other single family areas of town that have been identified as stable low density neighborhoods in the Comprehensive Plan. The new ARU rules could double or triple the density in those neighborhoods in direct contradiction of the Comp Plan Character Districts – creating traffic impacts that will fundamentally change those neighborhoods. Good planning says to focus density in the urban core rather than pushing it out into the periphery.

Town and County Cooperation – Unedited Q&A

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his “Town Candidates See Value in County Ties” article in the 7/27/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina: This week’s round of questions is about town and county cooperation. What are the challenges of being separate entities? What are the benefits? Can the relationship be improved, if so how?

Judd Grossman: The challenge of being separate entities is dealing with overlapping interests and jurisdictions, and the disenfranchisement of County voters from Town decisions. The benefit is that Town voters enjoy a government that is close to the people and can respond to their unique concerns. Keeping the separate entities respects the integrity of Town as a real town, not just an administrative area within the county. I think that’s very important.

I’ve seen a lot of friction between the Council and the Commission. It seems that the two elected bodies have different styles of doing business and often suffer from poor communication. Enhanced transparency of decision making deliberations, and enhanced communication among electeds and with the public will help make sure nobody is blindsided.

The relationship between Town and County is important, because we need to work together to make sure that the county can stay as rural as possible and that new development is focused into the walkable urban commercial core of Town. Neither entity can make that happen by itself. It will take close coordination.

John Spina: How do you view the relationship that’s being forged with the joint housing department – how effective is this new structure? How would you work to improve it?

Judd Grossman: I think the new joint housing department makes sense. The Housing Authority needed reigning in. It was making big time money decisions without the accountability of being elected. I would like to see the newly restructured department go balls to the wall on enforcing the affordable housing deed restrictions. Lax enforcement has allowed terrible gaming of the system. Even one deed restricted home that is occupied by someone who shouldn’t be there costs the community hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted subsidies. The folks who are cheating on the deed restrictions are demoralizing the hard working taxpayers who are making enormous sacrifices to live here. In order to keep strong public support for deed restricted housing we need to have a zero tolerance policy on cheaters.

John Spina: How well have past joint ventures (parks and rec, START) worked and what did you learn from them?

Judd Grossman: I’m concerned that the joint planning department is overworked and unable to focus effectively on the needs of Town. We need to take a look at getting more dedicated attention from staff on Town planning, so that we can get our LDRs done expeditiously, and so that development projects aren’t hung up by unnecessary delays.

In general some of the joint ventures are a bit unwieldy in that both entities fund them, but only one entity manages any given department. I’m uncomfortable when Town money is spent without vigorous Town oversight.

I think decentralized power in the form of distinct local political entities are a good thing for democracy. The focus should be on working together rather than combining.

Conservation (unedited)

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his “Council candidates talk walking, creeks” article in the 7/20/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina: How do you envision the town’s role in conservation? Where can the town improve it’s conservation efforts?  What specific conservation programs/projects would you like to see the council lead/fund? How and where can rezoning the town serve conservation efforts?

Judd Grossman: I have been in love with the Town of Jackson since I first moved here in 1980. I love our quiet residential neighborhoods, our bustling downtown, and our Iconic Town Square. I want to preserve the livability of Town, and to make sure that development happens in the right places and on the community’s terms.

By focusing development into the walkable urban commercial core of Town we can avoid suburban sprawl and help keep the county lands as rural as possible. Development in the walkable core of Town helps reduce the need for car travel which reduces congestion on our roads and pollution in the air.

The Town has an interest in promoting open space, rural character, and wildlife habitat in the public and private lands that are adjacent toTown limits. That includes working to make sure that the proposed expansion of Snow King preserves the natural qualities of that mountain.

Within the borders of Town we can maintain and improve our park system, and work to find ways to accommodate dog in the parks. It seems that many of our Town parks could better serve the diverse needs of our residents if they had a fenced off area for dogs in them. This would take some pressure off of our wild land public recreation areas – like the Cache Creek drainage.

I think it’s important that we implement a long term vision to restore and revitalize Cache Creek as it passes through Town, so that it can become an amenity rather than just disappearing underground in a long culvert. I would like us to enhance the vitality and accessibility of both Cache Creek and Flat Creek within the Town limits

I will also encourage the preservation and/or replacement of street trees where ever possible to soften the urban feel of downtown.

I will encourage the Town to pursue energy conservation efforts in it’s internal operations when there is a robust return on investment.

John Spina: If SPET is used for the landslide stabilization and later replaced by a 6th cent of sales tax for housing and transportation, where can the town find funds to put towards conservation?

Judd Grossman: We must defeat the General Excise Tax in November, and not allow it to replace SPET. SPET is the tax that allows us to fund special projects including those that can enhance Town’s parks and waterways – with government transparency and accountability and with full citizen involvement.

 

Taxes – Unedited

 

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his “Council candidate supports Budge tax” article in the 7/13/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina: I know most of you support the tax, but it would help to have an explanation of why or why not you endorse each of the proposals.

Whether you support it or not, how will you go about gaining support for your position and try to ensure the outcome your looking for?

If the SPET is not passed in August, how would you go about funding stabilization efforts for the budge landslide knowing that Walgreens is unlikely to fully participate?

In terms of the general sales tax, what specific projects would you propose the town fund with the money? If you don’t support it, how would you go about funding housing and transportation projects?

Similarly, if the general sales tax is not passed how would you fund housing and transportation projects? What is the next step? Property tax?

Judd Grossman:

Budge Slide:

I’m still deliberating about the Budge Slide SPET tax proposal. I understand that the hillside has been weakened by human activity for decades, but the Town still hasn’t made a clear and compelling case for why it is the responsibility of taxpayers to fix the slide. 

Here are my questions:

Are the private sector engineers who signed off on the plan for building Walgreens liable for malpractice?

Is the Town legal team aggressively fighting for the taxpayers’ interests in this matter?

What are the real actuarial odds of the slide creating catastrophic damage to Broadway?

If the taxpayers pay up front to fix the slide will the Town be able to clawback the money once the courts decide who is liable?

Do we understand what went wrong with government oversight of this project, and have we taken steps to make sure that any errors aren’t repeated in the future?

The SPET ballot process is the perfect venue for these concerns to be discussed and resolved. Which begs the question: Why are the Town and County killing SPET after August, and replacing it with a General Excise Tax Increase that has none of the accountability of SPET? How will we pay for these kinds of unexpected big ticket expenses in the future without SPET?

General Excise Tax increase:

I am against the General Excise Tax increase. The tax increase is being touted as a solution to our housing and traffic problems, but is actually just a doubling down on past failed policies.

The way to make a real difference in our workforce housing problem is to implement a Workforce Housing Overlay in the walkable urban commercial core. In the Workforce Housing Overlay there will be significant density bonuses for employment based deed restricted housing. The units will be limited in size and have no parking requirement. The Workforce Housing Overlay that I am proposing will allow employers and employees the opportunity to take care of their own housing without massive public subsidies that require a General Excise Tax increase.

The way to make a real difference in our traffic problem is to avoid expanding market rate commercial and market rate residential zoning rights. We also need to focus new workforce housing into the walkable urban commercial core, and allow the traffic engineers to optimize, connect and expand our roads. START can be expanded incrementally based on demand rather than the current “build it and they will ride” policy that is leading to a lot of empty buses and wasted money. 

Defeating the General Excise Tax increase and leaving SPET in place will allow us to use SPET for targeted housing and transportation capital projects such as public sector employee housing, and the purchase of buses and vans for START.

The General Excise Tax increase is a big money grab by local government. There is no guarantee that it will be spent on transportation and housing, and since it is based on the flawed Integrated Transportation and Workforce Housing Action Plans there is very little chance that it will make a significant difference in our traffic and housing woes. This tax increase is being sold in a misleading way to the public in the name of “we have to do something” about housing and traffic, but spending hundreds of millions of dollars to give lip service to these very important issues is very expensive political theater, and interferes with our pursuit of real solutions.

Direct public subsidies of private sector workforce housing is corporate welfare, and at the rate of $100,000 to $400,000 in cash subsidies per unit we will waste millions of dollars and barely scratch the surface of our deficit of thousands of workforce housing units. 

START is a useful component of our transportation plan, but spending over $100 million so that START can at best handle 3% of valley traffic is not a good return on investment.

By displacing SPET with a General Excise Tax increase the community will lose a popular and valuable way to fund big ticket items. For over 30 years SPET has allowed the community to vote on each proposal. This is a powerful democratic process that compels government to convince us that there is solid coherent reasoning for how our hard earned money is spent.

Transportation – Unedited Q&A

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his Council Candidates Champion START article in the 7/6/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina:  What about the transportation system is currently working? How can it be improved?

Judd Grossman: Unfortunately we have outgrown our roadway system so that at peak rush hour, or when there is any kind of accident the road system fails. We are like a middle aged man trying to get into his high school prom tux – our vision of ourselves and reality are not jiving. For years we have had our heads in the sand regarding our roads and have managed them for rural charm, and to maximize the funneling of commercial traffic into Town without proper planning for the inevitable growth in population that we have experienced. Now traffic jams are causing our quality of life, and that of our visitors to suffer. Two lane roads are not very charming when you are backed up in miles of stop and go traffic.

Multimodal is part of the solution, but we have to be realistic. Alternative modes handle a very small percentage of our trips: Pathways are a useful recreational amenity, but don’t take many cars off the road; START is useful and will be an important tool in relaxing the parking requirements in the urban core, but even with it’s very large budget and ubiquitous buses START only handles about 1% of our traffic.

In order to slow the growth of our traffic problem we need to refrain from encouraging employment growth, focus future development into the walkable urban core of Jackson, and remove parking requirements from deed restricted housing that falls within the Workforce Housing Overlay I’m proposing.

The elephant in the room is that in order to effectively deal with our steadily worsening traffic problem the real solution is to optimize, expand and connect our roadways. In other words, we need to quit micromanaging the traffic engineers and let them do their job. 

John Spina:  What is your position on the integrated transportation plan?

Judd Grossman: The Integrated Transportation Plan is fatally flawed. It is completely delusional in it’s call for quadrupling START ridership in the next 20 years, and it’s request for funding for that chimera has led to the General Excise Tax increase ballot question which we must defeat in November. START ridership has been essentially flat for 10 years. START staff has no idea how it will be able to double let alone quadruple ridership. Even if at the cost of over one hundred millions dollars the completely unrealistic goal of quadrupling ridership is reached START will still only handle 3% of our trips. That’s not a solution to our traffic problems, and it’s a terrible rip-off for hardworking taxpayers who are already struggling to make ends meet.

 John Spina: How do you increase ridership on the START bus?

Judd Grossman: START can become more efficient and more effective. Smart land use planning is the key. By avoiding suburban sprawl we can create critical mass for START service in the urban commercial core of Jackson and to Teton Village. START can also be a useful component of our workforce housing efforts. I’m proposing a Workforce Housing Overlay that will encourage employment based deed restricted housing in the walkable urban core of Jackson while removing parking requirements for those units. Intelligently targeted START service in the urban core of Jackson will allow those residents to avoid the expense of owning a car.

John Spina: Should START be used to “bus in” workers from Alpine, Driggs, Victor etc? Should it be expanded?

Judd Grossman: It is reasonable for START to provide commuter service to Alpine, Driggs and Victor, but any expansion of START service should be in response to demand. The current “build it and they will ride” policy has led to empty buses and wasted taxpayer dollars. We also need to make sure that employees and employers contribute to the costs of maintaining these routes, so that this doesn’t become a de facto subsidy of private business.

 John Spina: How you do increase non-motorized transportation throughout town? 

Judd Grossman: We can increase the use of non-motorized transportation throughout town by focusing development into the walkable urban core, so that residents will be in close proximity to work, services and shopping; and by implementing a Workforce Housing Overlay which will remove the parking requirement for new employment based deed restricted units.

John Spina: How does Jackson fund capital improvements to streets and public transportation facilities?  

Judd Grossman: The Town of Jackson currently funds capital improvements to streets and public transportation facilities through the 5th cent of General Excise Tax and through the Specific Purpose Excise Tax. SPET has been a very useful and transparent way for the public to examine and vote on big ticket items individually. Why are the Town and County killing SPET and replacing it with a blank check General Excise Tax increase? It seems like their track record of managing funds is sketchy at best – reference The Grove. Now they are asking us to trust them with a tax increase that will generate over 200 million dollars over the life of the ITP with no evidence that the money will move our transportation needle by more than a few percentage points. Our elected officials are once again on the wrong track.

 John Spina: Ridesharing App? 

Judd Grossman: It is appalling that the ITP fails to even mention or take into account in any way the current transportation game changer: ride sharing; or the future game changer: autonomous vehicles. Ride sharing and autonomous vehicles have the potential significantly reduce our traffic and parking problems. How much did that consultant charge us to put together the Integrated Transportation Plan? Can we get our money back?

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District 2 – Unedited Q&A

This is my unedited Q&A with John Spina that formed the basis for his Candidates Take Stands On Zoning article in the 6/29/16 issue of the Jackson Hole News and Guide:

John Spina:  What aspects of district 2 are you in favor of and which do you disagree with?

Judd Grossman:  The District 2 process has been a junk show. The Town Council has whiplashed between extremes in a way that shows a lack of competence, and undue influence from special interests. Here is what needs to happen: The amount of commercial and lodging growth allowed in District 2 should be limited to that allowed in the 1994 plan; Non-conforming structures should be grandfathered in, so that owners are not penalized for redevelopment; Bonus density should be restricted exclusively to employment based deed restricted units. I oppose using market rate units as part of a density bonus scheme, and adding short term rentals is out of the question.

John Spina:  For those you disagree with how would you alter them?

Judd Grossman:  We need to allow density bonuses for employment based deed restricted units only – nothing else. Adding to our market rate residential, commercial and/or lodging capacity will only exacerbate our workforce housing imbalance.

John Spina:  What issues are you looking to solve through the rezoning process?

Judd Grossman:  Our valley is suffering from its popularity. There are too many jobs and there is too much traffic. Government has a responsibility to zone for a balance of development opportunities. Right now we are out of balance in our workforce housing supply. Rather than use massive taxpayer subsidies to provide very few units we need to focus exclusively on zoning density bonuses for employment based deed restricted units in the walkable urban core. That way employers and employees will have the opportunity to take care of their own housing needs without depending on the taxpayers and without making our traffic problems worse. Focusing deed restricted housing into the walkable urban core will put new development where people will have easy access to jobs, shopping, services and transit.

John Spina:  How do you envision rezoning the rest of town – i.e. should there be increased density is certain areas? Where can neighborhoods be more efficiently utilized? Where can commercial be developed?

Judd Grossman:  It’s vital that we continue to preserve the amazing character of our valley. That means protecting open space, wildlife habitat, and our stable residential neighborhoods. Density should be focused into the walkable urban core and diminish as you approach the public lands on the town periphery. We have a responsibility to offer employers and employees the opportunity to take care of their own housing needs in a way that doesn’t increase our traffic problems. I’m calling for a Workforce Housing Overlay in the walkable urban core. I’m talking about the areas of our town that are currently zoned for relatively low density commercial development: mid-town, the gateways, and parts of downtown and North Jackson. Within the Workforce Housing Overlay there should be significant density bonuses for adding employment based deed restricted units. The individual units should be limited in size and have no parking requirement. The Workforce Housing Overlay will allow us to address our workforce housing challenges in a way that enlivens our urban core while protecting our open spaces and stable neighborhoods, and will avoid adding traffic to our already failing road system.

 

Judd Grossman Files to Run for Town Council

May 23, 2016

For Immediate Release:

Jackson resident Judd Grossman has filed to run for Town Council. Grossman, a local musician and businessman, is running against incumbents Jim Stanford and Hailey Morton Levinson for a 4-year term on the Jackson Town Council.

“My principles and positions are clear: the General Excise Tax increase should be defeated at the ballot in November and taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to directly subsidize housing for private employees and their private employers, because that is corporate welfare.”

Grossman, who has been an active voice at the Jackson Town Council and Teton County Commission meetings, came to Jackson in 1980. He’s had a 30-year career as a musician, and along with his wife Mary, founded the alternative weekly newspaper, Planet Jackson Hole Weekly. He was a Town Planning Commission member in the 1990’s and was part of a local activist group called “People for the Plan” that fought in support the 1994 Comprehensive Plan.

His website www.votejudd.com refers to his pledges if he’s elected:

I will not give in to big development interests that want to cash in on our valley.

I will not give in to individuals and special interests who want to turn the government’s coffers into their own personal piggy bank.

I will tenaciously defend the taxpayer’s hard earned money.

I will provide real solutions to our workforce housing and traffic challenges.

I will fight to protect the character of our neighborhoods, our open spaces and our wildlife habitat.

Grossman is concerned that our community is on the wrong track, and that we can’t expect that to change by reelecting the current incumbents.

“The Workforce Housing Action Plan and the Integrated Transportation Plan that our elected officials recently passed are fundamentally flawed documents. They call for a massive increase in taxes without a coherent and intelligent plan for how to make our traffic and housing problems better.

The Community Priorities Fund the tax increase will support is a blank check for the government to give the appearance as if it’s doing something about our traffic and housing, but the return on investment – in even in the best case scenarios – is pathetic. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent to only improve traffic and housing by a few percentage points. This constitutes a huge money and power grab by local government that is nothing more than unbelievably expensive lip service.

I love this town, I’ve been here for over thirty years, and now that my kids are growing up I’m ready to offer my time and energy to the Town Council to make sure that we preserve this great community and guide its growth in the proper direction.

I will propose a workforce housing overlay that will use zoning incentives to encourage the private sector to build deed restricted workforce housing without requiring massive taxpayer subsidies.

Morton Levinson and Stanford have done some good things on the Town Council, but their support of the flawed Integrated Transportation Plan and Workforce Housing Action Plan, and their reckless effort to implement an unprecedented General Excise Tax increase of over 15% to fund these wasteful and ineffective transit and housing plans are deal breakers.

If you think Jackson is on the right track then vote for four more years of the same ineffective leadership. If you think we are on the wrong track, then I’d like to ask for your vote. I promise to be the taxpayer’s watchdog in government, and to propose real solutions to our housing and traffic problems, not just lip service.”

Visit votejudd.com to learn more about Judd Grossman’s principles and policy positions.

Judd Grossman for Town Council

P.O. Box 3222

Jackson, WY 83001

307-690-4935

[email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/JuddGrossmanTC/

https://twitter.com/JuddGrossmanTC

https://www.instagram.com/juddgrossman

Don’t Fall For It – (Letter to the Editor)

Here’s the text of my letter to the editor that was printed in the Jackson Hole News and Guide on 4/20/16:

 

I’m very concerned that our local government is not being straightforward with us regarding it’s plan to kill SPET and replace it with a general sales tax. Here’s why:

 

1) Officials claim that this general sales tax increase will provide a dedicated source of funding for housing and transportation. That’s not true. No matter what this group of elected officials resolves today those intentions are not binding on either them or on future electeds. This tax hasn’t even been implemented yet and there was already an attempt to add Budge Drive Slide remediation to the list of spending priorities, along with projects dealing with community safety, and conservation. Nothing will prevent a further expansion of allowable uses. This is not a dedicated source of funding it’s a blank check to grow government with none of the accountability that is built into the SPET tax that they are displacing.

 

2) Officials claim that the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that this tax will generate will be used to solve our workforce housing and traffic problems, but this claim is not supported by their own planning documents.

 

Regarding workforce housing: The plans they have put in place are vague and even in their best case scenarios the huge expenditures they are planning for government subsidized private sector workforce housing will not reduce our workforce housing deficit. It will only modestly reduce the rate of growth of that deficit. The ridiculously high subsidies required by the low density housing they are planning is right up there with the Pentagon’s $600 toilet seats. No individual or employer in his right mind would pay $300,000 subsidies per housing unit. Only a government that’s using other people’s money would do that.

 

Regarding traffic: The enormous sums of money they plan to spend on transit will not reduce overall traffic volume. In their own extremely optimistic traffic planning projections START will at best in 20 years only handle a tiny fraction of all vehicle trips.

 

The Town and County are not proposing actual solutions to our housing and traffic problems. They are simply giving very expensive lip service to these issues in the name of “something must be done”.

 

The town and county have a track record of failure on these issues, including a disappointing history of waste and mismanagement. Now they are doubling down on these past failures with no coherent solutions on the table. If this resolution passes, at the end of ten years they will have taxed and spent over 100 million dollars, and what will we have to show for it? A widening housing gap, and a bus system that handles less than 2% of our trips.

 

Real solutions do exist to our workforce housing and traffic problems. We need to implement meaningful density bonuses in appropriate areas in exchange for deed restricted housing, We need to strictly focus private and public development into existing nodes, we need to modestly expand START when demand requires it, and we need to expand the carrying capacity and connectivity of our roadway system. These are actual effective solutions, but they require political will and leadership from our elected officials. Instead of providing that leadership officials are asking us to write them a big blank check and only giving us false promises in return. This ballot question encourages us to waste our hard earned money on false solutions that will only enhance the public’s sense of despair, and distrust of government.

 

3) Officials claim that this resolution isn’t proposing a tax increase, but they know full well that once they have brazenly usurped the very popular SPET tax with the general sales tax there will be a deafening clamor to reinstate SPET. Special interest groups that are waiting in the wings right now with over $100 million dollars in SPET requests will do their dirty work for then and promptly lead the fight for a tax increase. Adding SPET back will require a 7th penny of tax. That’s not just another penny. It’s a 15% tax increase. They are crowding out SPET, a popular revenue source, with their own money grab. The resolution elected officials just passed is a backdoor tax increase and they know it.
Rather than trying to cajole us into giving them a blank check general sales tax increase with false promises and a failed track record, the Town and County should instead put concrete proposals for housing and transit on the existing SPET ballot and convince us they are worth the money. The idea of leaving it up to the voters to decide on a general sales tax increase sounds very democratic and transparent, but to present the voters with an enormously expensive, ineffective, and deceptive tax increase, and tell them it’s their only hope for relief from the challenges we face does a disservice to a community that is looking for real solutions.

Judd Grossman
Jackson

Corporate Welfare (letter to the editor)

Here’s the text of my letter to the editor that was printed in Planet Jackson Hole on 10/28/16 and in the Jackson Hole News and Guide on 11/4/15:

We must not raise taxes or use taxpayer money to subsidize workforce housing for the private sector.

Our affordable housing problem is a problem between employers and employees, and the government should not get in the middle. If employers are having trouble filling positions they need to either pay higher wages, subsidize housing for their employees, or rework their business plans to operate more efficiently.

To require the general public to subsidize workforce housing through government subsidies creates a windfall not only for the lucky individuals who are able to take advantage of large housing subsidies, but more importantly a windfall for employers who are able to enjoy having the taxpayers pay part of their employee costs. This is a blatant form of corporate welfare, and only throws more fuel on the fire of our overheated economy by publicly subsidizing private commercial enterprises.

Why are we even talking about low-wage jobs in a community that has negative unemployment?

Take for instance the controversial rent increases at Blair Place; a $500 per month increase in rent could be mitigated by a $2 or $3 per hour raise in wages for the average tenant, but as long as the government is ready to rush in and subsidize housing costs businesses will continue to avoid paying the full cost of their employees, and the taxpayer will continue to get the shaft.

If employers can’t fill low-wage positions then wages should rise until those positions become attractive to potential employees, and if higher wages create a headwind to economic growth is that really a problem in the current local economic climate? Slower growth would mean, fewer jobs, less traffic, and less demand for workforce housing.

I urge our elected officials: Do not raise taxes, and do not use taxpayer money to subsidize workforce housing for the private sector. Those are the “do nots.” Here are the “dos”:

1. Do use taxpayer money to subsidize housing for public sector employees. We are all stakeholders in local government, and we have an interest in making sure it provides its services as efficiently and at as low a cost as possible.

2. Do create well-crafted incentives to spur the private sector to develop high-density workforce housing in the core-urbanized areas of Town.

Judd Grossman

Jackson