Lodging tax questioned

Rio Blanco BOCC address concerns over public dollars


Rio Blanco County Commissioners addressed questions about the county's lodging tax boards during special work sessions in Meeker and Rangely.

Residents questioned the accountability of the tax board and asked commissioners the process by which funds are allocated.

"The public needs to know where to get applications, when the board meets, and the purpose of this tax," former commissioner Peggy Rector said Monday.

Rector, who is on the board of the college district, said she was appearing before commissioners as a private citizen.

Rector suggested that the Rangely and Meeker boards work on a Rio Blanco County brochure that would promote all of the county and its diversity.

"I really like the idea of a county brochure," Commissioner Don Davis said.

Since 1988, a 2 percent county sales tax has been collected in Rio Blanco County on lodging or from any entity providing accommodations.

For convenience, two boards were established and the monies are disbursed 75 percent to Meeker and 25 percent to Rangely.

According to Debbie Morlan, the county's sales and use tax administrator, the average yearly total is around $60,000, which fluctuates depending on sales tax collected that year.

"What we collect in Rangely is what we get -- and we use it," said Marv Boleng chair for the Rangely board.

"Our philosophy is if the account is zero we're doing our job," he said.

Because this is a tax collected and disbursed by the county, the board of county commissioners appoints members and disburses the money to the board.

The commissioner agreed that the 2 percent lodging tax would be included in next year's audit.

"This is public money and they need to have advertised meetings.

They should have minutes and we should know where the money is going," Rector said.

"People serving on these boards are busy and attending regular meetings is sometimes impossible," Davis said.

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