To the editor:
We would like to thank Dave DeRose for all the effort he has put into trying to make Craig a better place to live and visit. We agree in principle with what Progress for Craig is trying to do.
Where the problem lies is in the dramatic amount that this group and the Craig City Council decided to pursue in this ballot question.
By increasing the lodging tax by 5 percent to the 6.9 percent, per the ballot question, you are, in effect, raising the taxes that lodging establishments have to charge to a total of 14.05 percent.
This will place an unfair burden on the lodging industry. The proposal makes the increase in marketing Craig, from 1.9 percent to 3 percent. Three percent more goes to infrastructure (capital expenses) relating to tourism.
This ambiguous terminology leaves it open for future councils to decide what capital improvements relate to tourism.
Although we agree that these items would be beneficial to Craig, they may not do anything to attract or retain tourists.
A petition, signed by the entire lodging industry in Craig, was presented at the first city council reading of this ballot question.
This petition asked the council to keep the total percentage of the ballot measure below 5 percent. Most of the businesses that signed the petition could see the need for a change in the funding of marketing Craig.
What we objected to was the drastic amount of the increase, 363 percent. In this slower economy, with most hotels not yet full for hunting season, and our local mine jobs at risk, this is not the time to be greedy.
A smaller increase could have been presented or even a tax to go across a larger base, including other tourist dependent businesses, at a smaller rate to get the same return.
Please keep in mind that at the 14.05 percent lodging tax, we will be higher than almost all other cities in Colorado, and definitely higher than the Western Slope communities.
The total tax charged, including city, county, state and lodging, in Meeker is 8.4 percent, Glenwood Springs is 11.1 percent, and Grand Junction is 10.65 percent.
Even hotels in downtown Denver are only required to charge 14.85 percent.
You may agree with the concept of this ballot issue, but we ask you to thoughtfully consider the consequences of this ballot measure and vote no on 2B.
It is the wrong time and the cost is too high.
Randy and Cindy Looper