Craig Chamber withdraws lodging tax proposal
March 31, 2011
Marilynn Hill, director of the Moffat County Tourism Association, said she left Tuesday's Moffat County Commission meeting pleased with the outcome.
During the meeting, Craig Chamber of Commerce Board members announced they were withdrawing a proposal made in February to oversee Moffat County's 1.9-percent lodging tax rather than MCTA.
"It is a relief for us knowing that we have the support of the commissioners and also the Chamber," Hill said. "I just think it's good to have a good direction to go in."
Chamber board member Gail Severson announced the Chamber's intent to withdraw the proposal.
"Somehow, this turned into a nightmare," Severson said. "The Chamber came in and presented a proposal to help the commissioners and help MCTA get going on this thing.
"At this point, MCTA's got it all together. It's wonderful and they've got a great director."
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Chamber board member Joe Bird echoed Severson and said the Chamber is willing to help MCTA in the future.
"That doesn't mean (by) us pulling our proposal that we're not willing to help," Bird said. "That's what we came here for, that's what we came here wanting to do."
County commissioner Tom Mathers said the proposal was brought forward due to trouble MCTA had filling board seats.
When the proposal was raised Feb. 15, the MCTA Board had four members. A week later, the county commission appointed members to the board's three remaining seats.
"Now we have a full board on our tourism board, they're going to do a fine job … but I do appreciate the Chamber and Melody (Villard) stepping up and saying, 'We're here to help if you can't get it done,'" Mathers said.
Before the Chamber announced it would withdraw the proposal, Moffat County Attorney Jeremy Snow spoke about the legality of the proposal, at the request of the county commission.
Snow said a key statute regarding the lodging tax reads, "The county commissioners shall elect a panel of no less than three citizens to administer the tourism fund."
That panel, Snow said, is MCTA.
"The way I read that statute, if the Chamber wants to assist in the marketing or administration of those funds, they need to go to the MCTA and ask that the MCTA use them as the marketing entity but the (commission) cannot simply place the Chamber in the position of the MCTA," Snow said.
Snow also said the statute specifies members of the panel be involved in the tourism industry.
"While there's clearly several people on the Craig Chamber of Commerce, not everyone is," he said. "There are members of the Chamber of Commerce that have nothing to do with tourism."
He said because some Chamber board members aren't involved in tourism and the board members are not appointed by the commission, the proposal could "not legally be done."
Commissioners Tom Gray and Audrey Danner also thanked the Chamber for their interest in helping.
"I appreciate your offer to stay involved because I believe the Chamber and tourism are intricately linked," Gray said. "Right now, the linkage is with the visitor center, but I think there's opportunity for other linkages, and as we look at the MCTA budget each year, I, for one, will want that link to stay in place."