Craig lodging tax committee focusing on education

Council member organizing members, planning first meeting

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If you go

What: Lodging tax promotion committee meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Yampa Valley Bank boardroom, 435 N. Mack Lane

— The meeting is open to the public.

Current total taxes on lodging in Craig — 9.05 percent

Proposed total taxes on lodging in Craig — 14.05 percent

Total taxes on lodging in other Northwest Colorado communities

• Steamboat Springs — 9.4 percent or 11.4 percent, depending on area

• Grand Junction — 10.65 percent

• Vail — 9.8 percent

• Meeker and Rangely — 8.4 percent

• Glenwood Springs — 11.1 percent

  • Figures include local lodging taxes, city, county and state sales taxes and other taxes.

In August, the Craig City Council approved placing a 6.9-percent city lodging tax measure before city voters in November.

Now, city officials and lodging tax supporters are looking for ways to promote the proposed tax.

City council member Terry Carwile, who originally raised the lodging tax idea, is in the process of organizing a committee to oversee the promotion, education and support of the tax.

Carwile has scheduled an upcoming community meeting for those interested in participating in the lodging tax education committee. The meeting will be hosted at 6.p.m. Wednesday in the boardroom at Yampa Valley Bank, 435 Mack Lane. The meeting is open to the public.

“I never think that it is easy to get a message through to the public at large,” Carwile said. “It just demands a lot of time, repetition and so forth to get the word out in as many ways as possible.”

Despite being early in the education process, Carwile said he knows what message he would like to pass along to voters.

“I personally would want to get out there that it will definitely be a benefit to the community,” he said. “There is certainly a lot to be derived from an increased marketing effort (and) some strategic capital development and economic development, and all of those things are in this mix.”

The lodging tax proposal hasn’t been without its share of opposition from the local lodging industry, however.

Randy Looper, co-owner of the Elk Run Inn of Craig, spoke out against the tax percentage at several city council meetings and organized a petition against the rate, which was signed by 15 local lodging representatives.

Currently, the total tax on city lodging establishments is 9.05 percent, city finance director Bruce Nelson said. That includes Moffat County’s 1.9-percent lodging tax, and state, city and county sales taxes.

If the 6.9-percent lodging tax measure passes in November, the total tax on lodging establishments would rise to 14.05 percent, Nelson said.

That percentage could give Craig one of the higher, if not the highest, total taxes on lodging establishments in the region.

Steamboat Springs has a 1-percent accommodation tax and a 2-percent local marketing district tax in certain areas of the city, said Christy Abney, city sales tax clerk.

Abney said the total tax rate on lodging establishments in the city — factoring in city, county and state sales taxes — is either 9.4 percent or 11.4 percent, depending on where the establishment is located.

Grand Junction has a 3-percent lodging tax, said Debi Overholt, customer service manager for the city.

The total tax on lodging establishments including the lodging tax, city, county and state taxes in Grand Junction is 10.65 percent, Overholt said.

Meeker and Rangely both have a 1.9-percent lodging tax, said Debbie Morlan, sales tax and use tax administrator for Rio Blanco County. Morlan said the total tax on lodging establishments, including lodging taxes and city, county and state sales taxes, in both towns is 8.4 percent.

Looper said he is opposed to the city’s tax, considering it could make local taxes on lodging the highest in the area.

“Their argument is that people will not go elsewhere because we are in the middle of nowhere,” Looper said. “My argument is that, ‘Yes they will.’ They will go to Meeker, they will go to Steamboat (Springs), particularly if they are repeat people.”

Looper said much of the business he has developed during his time owning the motel comes from repeat customers.

“I am going to have to lower my rates, or they are going to have to go elsewhere,” he said.

Carwile said many people may overreact to the percentage total and may also “get hung up on the rate” increase if the lodging tax measure passes.

“When you actually apply the dollar figure to what that amounts to, it is just not that great,” he said. “Five dollars more on a $100 hotel bill is not that great.”

Carwile said other resort communities, like Steamboat Springs, make money from the lodging industry in other ways.

“It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison when you look at what we’re trying to do and when you look at what a resort community is trying to do,” he said. “I just don’t think that is the best comparison.”

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