Craig lodging tax committee finalizes ordinance

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The Craig lodging tax committee approved Wednesday the ordinance and ballot question it has worked throughout the last few months to draft.

The ordinance and ballot question will be introduced to the Craig City Council at its July 13 meeting.

The city council must approve the ordinance and ballot question before they can be placed before voters in the November election.

The committee is proposing a 6.9-percent lodging tax be collected in the city and divided into four categories related to improvement of tourism in the area.

In the ballot question, the committee earmarked 3 percent of the tax for tourism marketing, 3 percent for capitol improvements, .6 percent for economic development and .3 percent for community beautification.

The ordinance stipulates that funds collected from the tax will be managed by two entities.

The first entity would be a board of oversight comprised of three members. It will manage 3.9 percent of the lodging tax set aside for capitol improvements, community beautification and economic development. Members will be appointed by the city council.

The second entity would be a committee comprised of five Moffat County or Craig residents and one, non-voting ex-officio city councilor.

It would be broken down to include two members from the lodging industry, two residents at large and one representative from the restaurant and bar industry. It will be responsible for 3 percent of the tax earmarked for tourism development and marketing, and hiring a committee director.

City attorney Kenny Wohl started the lodging tax committee meeting Wednesday by presenting the committee with two draft ordinances — a short, 4-page draft and a longer, 15-page draft.

The committee agreed the shorter ordinance would be better to present to voters.

The committee, however, spent the majority of the meeting discussing sections of the larger draft that needed to be included in the smaller draft.

One section outlining how the tax would be used — including the purpose of the tax, the role the city council plays in the management of the tax and the organization of the two managing entities — was included in the smaller ordinance.

Craig resident Pam Foster voiced concerns about whether the managing entities should be made up of only city residents or all Moffat County residents.

Foster also asked if the residents should be property owners and what the definition of a resident would be.

“We have a lot of people that have come in for a short period of time and they either stir up trouble, or they do something (and) leave us with a big debt and they’re gone,” she said.

Committee chairman Dave DeRose said he felt the committees shouldn’t restrict themselves in the way the county’s lodging tax is currently restricted by state statutes.

“The bottom line is that I don’t want to see us get so restricted by those kinds of things that we can’t put people on it,” he said.

The committee voted to allow residents from either Craig or Moffat County to serve on either board.

The committee also discussed whether to stipulate if capitol improvements should be built in the county or the city, ultimately deciding to leave the development in the city.

“I kind of like just leaving the city in it so that we get the things done in the city that I think we need to do first,” DeRose said. “And then, once we are done in the city and we have got conventions coming here and we decided we want to do something else in the county, then we can do that by amending the ordinance.”

The committee also discussed starting a political action group to market the ballot measure to voters, but took no action.

EDP weighs in on tax

During its board meeting Wednesday, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership discussed the lodging tax.

EDP Director Darcy Trask said the tax received strong support from EDP members.

Trask said board members felt “the inclusion of economic development was critical, and a strong tourism community and a strong economy are very closely tied.”

She said several board members would become more involved in the process of supporting the measure.

Comments

native_craig_guy 4 years, 5 months ago

I understand the need for a lodging tax. This tax will benefit the community and will tax those who visit our community rather than live here. My concern is the manner in which the money is being distributed. Why is 52% of the money going towards the tourism board and the EDP? I could understand a smaller portion of the funds going towards those agencies but 52%? Over the years that the EDP has been around what have they "developed"? Besides the 101 Things To Do In Moffat County Brochure what have they done? We should focus on the reasons why businesses do not want to come to Craig, rather than just try and compete with the likes of Vernal and Grand Junction. Our land prices and cost of living are artificially inflated, our winter climate is harsh and we have very few community resources that potential businesses like to see. We should put the 3.3% (48%) of the money into community related capitol projects (i.e. rec center, something besides the Wyman Museum, etc.). What we could really use is increased infrastruture in our community that would attract businesses. Not more money for a committee that has no real plan on developing the community and has done relatively nothing to date. Just my humble opinion.

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Scott Ford 4 years, 5 months ago

Hi Native Craig Guy - I disagree that the CMEDP has not done much. Allow me to support this belief. There are essentially two approaches to economic development rural communities engage in. One, perhaps the best known, and the most visible is essentially called "Economic Hunting". This is where the community actively seeks a company (hopefully with wages that pay above the average for the county) to relocate there. It is felt that this is the best way to diversify and grow the economy.

The other is strategy is called economic gardening. This is where a commitment is made to foster a culture of entrepreneurship. There are two elements to the economic gardening strategy that need to occur: 1) Focus on improving infrastructure, (health care, transportation, telecommunication, and education. 2) Opportunities for individuals considering starting a business to explore assess it feasibility. Economic gardening is committed to viewing the individuals interested in starting a business as one of the community's strongest economic asset.

Economic hunting is a failed strategy for rural communities. Yet there are dozens of rural communities in Colorado that continue to cling to it as their best if not only hope. Simply put - likely hood of a major business moving to Craig in the next 10 years are very slim. This is true with all rural communities and those in Colorado are no exception. The state Office of Economic Development and International Trade has not been successful in recruiting a major business to any rural county in Colorado for years. I think Craig/Moffat County keeps the welcome mat out, however, beyond that little else is necessary.

The Craig/Moffat County area has been and continues do what will help foster and enable a culture of entrepreneurship. The passage of the bond issues 3 years ago for the hospital, K-12 schools, and the college was awesome. The commitment to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport and the improvement to improving the general aviation airport in Craig are the right type of commitments to make.

It takes about 3 years for an economic gardening strategy to take root. EDP is less than 6 months into the current strategy. With a fully functioning Economic Gardening Strategy based on the population in Moffat County between 5 and 7 new businesses will start annually. Total employment including the owner will be about 12. Total new direct private sector income close to $500,000. This can be done year after year. I know because I am a master economic gardener. The businesses that start are businesses that are started by local people (friends and neighbors) that are committed to the community. This strategy yields a two for one / economic development and community development.

So I would argue that the CMEDP is doing the right things. To state otherwise is short-sighted or a commitment to an "economic hunting" strategy that is doomed to fail regardless how hard a community tries.

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