Guest Opinion: The problem with fence-sitting is where the splinters end up

Communities and individuals often fail to make progress in life and in business because we postpone action until we feel as though we have the “perfect solution.” We painstakingly research all the facts, consider every angle, and study each relevant detail. We convene committees, write white papers, and search for consensus. However, this quest for the “perfect solution” has us sitting on the fence in limbo, often without end. Even when we know there’s a problem that urgently needs solved.

Instead of perfection, perhaps what we need are decisions.

The Estes Valley is at a critical juncture where decisions our voters make now will have lasting effects into the future for workers and families in our community. Passing Ballot Initiative 6E – the Lodging Tax Extension is crucial to ensuring we get on the path to having enough workforce housing and childcare available to our residents. And it’s not just our residents who will benefit from a YES vote on 6E.

One of the primary constituencies the EDC serves are the ~709 licensed local businesses who have both a physical and mailing address in the Estes Valley. In order to better understand the needs of our business community, the EDC Entrepreneur Center revamped our annual business survey to get clarity around the support our businesses want and need in order to expand and thrive.

Estes businesses are very clear on what pain points they face. 90% of our respondents marked availability of housing as fair or poor. It is their number two issue based on our survey results. Right behind housing is the availability of childcare with 82% responding fair or poor. (In case you’re wondering, the number one issue for businesses is the availability of commercial space with 100% responding fair or poor.)

What makes these issues even more pressing are the plans 60% of businesses have for expansion within the next year. Expansion and growth are difficult when your workforce can’t find housing or childcare. The EDC receives emails year-round from people trying to find workforce housing, who ultimately fail and must turn down job offers from our schools, hospital, and other essential service areas.

We cannot afford to be indecisive now. A YES vote on 6E will raise around $5 million a year from a 3.5% increase to the lodging tax our visitors pay in order to fund workforce housing and childcare initiatives. We have not raised the lodging tax since it was established 14 years ago in 2008, and increasing it to a total of 5% still keeps Estes on the low end of lodging tax rates across the state.

Working with our business owners and community partners for the last year, I’ve slowly come to understand what the phrase Mountain Strong embodies. For a community that has faced flood, fires, and millions of visitors together it isn’t merely a catchphrase or hashtag. It’s a commitment to help your neighbors and community rise above challenges. It’s the determination that our mountain town will continue to be not just an amazing place to visit, but an incredible place to live and work.

Sitting on this fence doesn’t make you a good neighbor. It doesn’t help our businesses or our working families. An essential part of the future success of the Estes Valley resides in the passage of the Lodging Tax Extension. The time for action and decisiveness is now. Vote YES on 6E.

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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