Local officials to discuss potential lodging tax

If you go

What: Craig City Council, Moffat County Commission public workshop to discuss possible city lodging tax

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.

• The meeting is open to the public.

— Craig City Council member Ray Beck said it is important for the community to attend an upcoming workshop about a potential new city tax.

“I think people should come out and voice their opinions on it and at the same time get educated,” Beck said.

Beck was referring to the Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission’s public workshop at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to determine whether Craig should move forward with a lodging tax.

The issue was suggested by council member Terry Carwile and received the go-ahead March 23 from the council to host the workshop.

The council and commission will be on hand to hear community feedback on the issue and decide whether it will be placed on November’s ballot. Any decision to collect a lodging tax would need the approval of Craig voters.

Lodging taxes are collected from people staying in hotels, motels and other forms of lodging, and funds tourism and other county or city projects.

Currently, Moffat County imposes a 1.9 percent lodging tax, which funds the Moffat County Tourism Association.

The county is limited to collecting no more than 2 percent, a rule that would be eliminated if the city imposed a tax.

In addition, the city would not be limited on how it could spend the revenue, and it would not be required to spend the money on tourism only.

If the city were to implement a lodging tax, the county would have to withdraw its collection of taxes within city limits.

In 2009, Moffat County collected $155,260.51, all of which was allocated to MCTA.

Carwile said the idea to start the lodging tax dialogue with residents came from observations on declining city revenues.

“We were (seeing) a disturbing downward trend in sales tax revenues and the revenue picture isn’t all that bright yet,” Carwile said. “We were looking at some way to try to turn that around, and on top of that, you see the evaporation of energy impact grant money.

“We don’t know when we’ll see that build back up again.”

Carwile said a larger force is at work in Colorado’s sales tax climate.

“There is a larger demographic question coming into play, that is, as the population age increases … we’re talking about a shift away from money being spent on things that generate sales tax dollars,” he said.

Beck said he supports the tax.

“I think it would be an asset to Craig if the community would jump on board with this and pursue it and get it on the ballot,” he said. “It would have huge benefits.”

Beck also mentioned possible uses for the tax, including a community recreation center, construction and maintenance of new city sidewalks, and installation of new downtown streetlights.

Carwile said he would like to see a stipulation on the proposed ballot measure that the lodging tax could not be funneled into the city’s general fund.

“This is not about using those dollars as backfill directly into the general fund,” he said. “It’s about using that money in a similar fashion for where it is being used now, but only in an enhanced way.

“Those are investment dollars, and you don’t put those in your checking account.”

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