Jones: A vote for Craig’s future

To the editor:

Recent legislative and regulatory actions by the state and federal governments have threatened the future viability of the coal and natural gas industries, two staples of the Craig economy.

These actions have uncovered two vulnerabilities threatening the stability of our wonderful community. The first vulnerability is the impact organizations far-removed from this community have on the coal and natural gas industries.

The second vulnerability is the influence these two industries have on the Craig economy. The correlation is obvious — future restrictions to these industries will jeopardize Craig’s economic growth and stability.

The unfortunate reality is that these two industries will continue to be under attack for the near future. Craig’s future economic health relies on the community’s ability to diversify its economy.

Approving Referendum 2B is a critical step in achieving this economic diversity. This measure generates the funds necessary to promote and cultivate the tourism industry.

Tourism is simply more than attracting weekend visitors. It is the ability to host festivals, conferences, trade shows and expositions. Craig does not have the current infrastructure to support these activities. Craig will not have this infrastructure unless it passes 2B.

Expanding tourism is not the only way to diversify the economy. However, approving 2B is an immediate way to expand our tourism industry.

My family moved to Craig a year ago. We moved here because of the quality of life I experienced as a native born and raised in this community.

As a father of children ages 5 and 7, I am concerned not only about Craig’s economy today but Craig’s economy five, 10 and 20 years from now. The community cannot afford to ignore the need for economic diversity.

Referendum 2B provides this diversity by funding not only the promotion of this region but by creating the infrastructure necessary to expand Craig’s footprint in the tourism industry.

More importantly, Referendum 2B is a tax paid by visitors to Craig, not the citizens of Craig. Each of us supports the economic development of other communities when stay in their hotels and pay their local taxes. Let’s reciprocate and have those visitors develop Craig’s economy.

The recent passage of Colorado House Bill 10-1365 and the BLM moratorium on energy exploration in the Vermillion Basin are real threats to the immediate future of Craig’s economy.

It is important for this community to fight these threats. It is of the same importance that this community protects itself from the economic impact of these uncertainties.

I am voting yes on Referendum 2B because I am voting yes to Craig’s economic future.

Remember, your voice won’t be heard unless you vote.

When you vote, vote yes for Craig’s future. Vote yes for Referendum 2B.

Chris Jones

Comments

P51 3 years, 6 months ago

Vote NO on Ref. 2B. Instead the city council should raise the minimum wage to 11 dollars per hour within the city limits. Yes, that will boost the local economy. More money will be available to buy new cars and new clothes and real estate and an addition to the house. And the city council could require the minimum wage to increase by 50 cents per hour each year for 5 years on a trial basis. That's the answer plain and simple NO on Ref. 2B and yes to 11 dollars per hour minimum wage.

0

lonelyone 3 years, 6 months ago

Chris, I wish you'd explain what Ref. 2B is all about. I was confused as to what you were talking about until I got near the bottom of your letter and realized you are talking about the tourism tax.
And P51, I guess I'm not with it yet this morning cuz I don't get why raising the minimum wages within the city limits will be the thing to do instead of upping our tourism tax? I am just trying to understand both points.

0

GreyStone 3 years, 6 months ago

I vote to work on the trash problem.

Consider the poor tourist arriving in Craig by why of the City dump on both side of North Yampa… they will most likely try their best to get to Rifle, Steamboat or Vernal, before stopping.

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

lonelyone, I apologize for the confusing nature of my letter. Attached is an address to a website that provides information regarding Ref. 2B. Hopefully this site can answer your questions. If not, I would be happy to offer my interpretation of this measure. http://www.progressforcraig.com/ Thanks, Chris

0

wellwell 3 years, 6 months ago

Chris Jones,

Well, I did read to full progressforcraig.com/ and found it very informative especially the 26 page study. Upon reading the study I know who wrote it, though it does not matter. It does answer most of my questions. I also believe that all citizens should read the study. It provides the "transparency" in this proposal. It is not a bad proposal,

It brings out the cooperative efforts of many entities to provide growth in tourism which will benefit the lodging industry. After all they are the agencies that will be collecting monies. The building of the tourism attractions will ajso benefit the citizens that live here in Craig, we will have the use year round.

If you sense that there is a "comma but" coming your right!

BUT they started on the wrong foot! If the study group had presented the desired goals and possible outcomes and who will benefit, someone may have been interested.

Think of this scenario:

Husband to Wife:

Honey, your sister needs to work an extra hour once a week until next summer.

What! Why??

I need the money.

What for???

For next summer. I'll have $5,000 by then and we won't have to pay for it.

We won't have to pay for WHAT??

Well, we will have it right here to use and she can use it when she comes here, plus its for use by our neighborhood.

WHAT THE WORLD WILL WE HAVE ????

You'll find out in the summer, but a lot of neighborhood knows, but isn't saying, just go along with me if she asks.

That is the status that most of us have on the lodging tax. Tourist pay and we get some benefits. The tourists will benefit and we will have it to use too. What, you'll just have to wait.

Back to the story; the sister didn't have motorcycle or a garage, so the husband figured a way to get his motorcycle free.

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

Well Well, Thanks for the post regarding the manner of how this referendum was presented to the voting public.

To me, the crux of this issue is not the process of how this referendum was developed. I did not attend any the numerous public meetings the committee held to develop this referendum. However, once the referendum was created, I interpreted this measure as an avenue to diversify Craig's economy. Diversification of Craig's economy is the focal point of my support for 2B.

0

lonelyone 3 years, 6 months ago

Chris, my husband went to progressforcraig and copied off your info. Please tell me where the first $550,000.00 comes from. and it this tax going to end up with a total of 14%.....new tax plus old tax???

0

wellwell 3 years, 6 months ago

The diversity of the economy will be to advertise the community as a tourist point of attraction. This will indeed add to our economy. Motels that have collected the tourist tax monies will benefit from the increased and more effective advertising of our area. We all know we enjoy our local attractions. Let's have others enjoy them too.

We also can provide a better environment for our visitors by using these monies to CLEANUP CRAIG and beauitfy the city. And we get to benefit the improvement year round.

Other possiblities are meetings/stage/activities center. Small conventions could meet here, entertainment could be held here, a gym could be centered here. This wouldn't happen all at once. The first would probably be a multipurpose open floor.

The building would need be close to the lodging places. The building should also close to other cultural centers and visible from the major highway/s.

We benefit by increased diversity by using our natural attractions and stuctures that benefit the residents.

The building should be setup architectually to be built in phases to add other sections as monies become available.

0

George Robertson 3 years, 6 months ago

wellwell, I think you are counting your chickens before your hens are laid. This is a Tax pure and simple and it's Not "free money"! When ever you rent a hotel room in another comunity, they also have "enhanced their revenue" by assessing a lodging tax. A lodging Tax is already in place, this is an Increase in the tax that brings it well above what other communities charge. The lodging tax isn't necessarily a bad idea (leave it at it's current rate), but raising it to an exorbitant percentage is!

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

Lonelyone, You requested clarification regarding the $550,000 figure and the total tax rate. Hopefully this post answers your questions. First, the proposed lodging tax is 6.9%. The current lodging tax is 1.9%. The proposed lodging tax of 6.9% added to the state sales tax of 2.90%, the city of Craig sales tax of 2.25%, and the Moffat County sales tax of 2.00%, brings the total tax to 14.05%. It is important to clarify that the lodging tax is NOT 14.05% rather 6.9% added to the existing state, city, and county sales tax base of 7.15%.

The $550,000 is an estimate of how much revenue the 6.9% sales tax would generate during its first fiscal year if lodging revenues were $8,000,000. The three-year average of the Craig / Moffat lodging revenue from 2007-09 is roughly $8,400,000.

Thanks for the questions. Chris

0

lonelyone 3 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Chris. So if I do a rough add of your figures, this tax proposal is an additional 5% on top of what we already have? I suppose that's not a bad amout.

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

Lonelyone, You are correct, the proposed lodging tax is a 5% increase over the current lodging tax of 1.9%. All other taxes remain the same.

This amount is definitely not a bad amount considering the potential benefits of this tax.

0

Ray Cartwright 3 years, 6 months ago

If I take the $8 million, which is lower than the 8.4 million 3 year average times the 1.9%, I come up with $152,000 dollars for the years 2007-2009. That totals up to $456,000 over the last 3 years. My question is who has had control of that monies and what have they done with it over the last couple of years? Which brings up the next question, who will decide where the additional $350,000 gets spent and on what?

0

wellwell 3 years, 6 months ago

Well,as I've posted on another article, when a tax is introduced without adequate discussion of plans and outcomes given fully to the public that cart is in front of the horse. You have to plan how many chickens you need before get enough eggs to hatch.

When the tax is introduced with % going here and % going there, it is a call to set up the calculators and set the keys clicking.

The opponents will use math to fight and we all know "figures don't lie." Then to fight you do the same thing, find "figures that don't lie." Polerization has begun.

What has been lost here is the Plans, Issues and Discussion! Has the Plans and Issues been Fully and Publically been put out to the citizens? Have the Plans been Fully and Publically discussed or published?

Have we, as citizens researched info. The following is the info that should be published better and this is what citizens should read: http://www.progressforcraig.com

Issues First , Discussion, then Figures

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

Dentedfender, You requested a breakdown of the allocation of the funds generated by the new lodging tax. Below is a breakdown based on the allocations (using a tax revenue base of $550,000 or 6.9% of $7,971,014) as set forth by the ballot wording. In other words, if passed, the monies will be allocated using the following guidelines. As stated in the ballot wording, the monies generated by the lodging tax will be placed in a lodging tax account and can NOT be placed in the City's general fund. Tourism Marketing - 3%, $239,130 Capital Improvements - 3%, $239,130 Economic Development - 0.6%, $47,826 Beautification - 0.3%, $23,913

The Craig City Council will appoint a three-person advisory board to oversee the allocation of the capital improvements fund. A separate five-person board (also appointed by city council) will allocate the monies for the other three funds.

It is my understanding that the City Council, similar to any other public issue, will give the public an opportunity to voice its opinions on the proposed allocation of funds.

As for your other question regarding how the monies have been spent in the past, I am not qualified to offer a response. I suggest you contact a MCTA board member or County Commissioner for a summary of how the past monies have been used.

0

ChrisJones 3 years, 6 months ago

WellWell, I agree with your post that any type of cultural change begins with identification of the issue. The issue is that Craig's economy is a three-legged stool with only two legs touching the ground (coal and oil / gas). The third leg, tourism, is an untapped segment that has historically been relegated to serving out-of-town hunters. I believe that a fourth leg of the stool exists, but that is a different conversation.

The discussion then becomes how does Craig develop this third economic leg; thus increasing the balance of Craig's economy? Judging from other editorials and other posts, the majority of citizens agree that the lodging tax is a necessary mechanism.

What is not agreed upon is the percentage. The opposition has stated that the percentage is too high; they would be happier with a lower percentage. Using a room rate of $90, the difference between a 6.9% lodging tax and 4.5% tax is $2.16. Yes, I realize that this illicits a figure comparison, but this is necessary for the discussion purposes.

This discussion becomes, does the city charge $2.16 more a night to generate an additional annual tourism tax revenue of $191,000? My thought is that the $191,000 can be reinvested to increase tourism activity.

The other aspect of the discussion focuses on the increased amenities to generate more tourism. Tourism is a multi-faceted industry. Craig and Moffat County can offer the natural attractions. However, Craig's current tourism infrastructure cannot support the convention segment of the tourism industry. The tourism tax is a means to support this expansion of infrastructure.

Conventions not only include trade groups but also youth athletics such as AAU basketball and club volleyball. As a board member for AAU, I can attest how increased gym space enhances the ability to host larger tournaments. Per the progressforcraig website, there is a proposed capital investment for a convention center. A center that can host both business and athletic conferences optimizes Craig's ability to expand this other segment of the tourist industry.

Unless you agree to the issues supported by the discussion, the figures are irrelevant. The opposition has stated that this tax is inappropriate considering the current state of the economy and the impending threat of H.B. 10-1365. This is an issue. However, I argue that the threat to coal mining jobs underscores the need for economic diversity. Regarding the current state of the economy, this is a non-factor simply because the tourism tax will not dictate economic behavior. Craig can either approve Referendum 2B on November 2 or suffer an annual opportunity cost of $400,000. That is a steep opportunity cost, one that I want to avoid.

0

George Robertson 3 years, 6 months ago

It always amazes me how the proponents of a new tax try to point out how trivial the amount will be (i.e. only $2.16 per night). They of course avoid the cumulative effect of Federal income tax, State income tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, City tax, Property tax, Lodging tax, Capital gains tax, Sales tax, Licence and registration fees, User fees, and the list goes on and on. They already collect 1.9%. That is their Budget and they need to find a way to stay within their budget without busting mine!

0

wellwell 3 years, 6 months ago

Chris,

I Thank you for your response. I guess I will be more to the point:

1) opposition due to not seeing product & benefits first 2) taxes raised from tourists should go to their benefit 3) lodging industry collects taxes, will benefit by occupancy 4) plans and blueprints should be in Craig DailyPress 5)a) Show Product b) Discuss Benefits c) Discuss the Price

My discussion is:

http://www.progressforcraig.com shows a good tourism industry product, show benefits, but the benefit to the tourist and lodging industry should be emphasized. The discussion of price at the front end got things in a turmoil and that discussion has gotten nausea started. Gall dern it get thems blueprints and verbal plans in the Craig Daily Press!!

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.