Craig City Council approves lodging tax on 1st reading |

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Craig City Council approves lodging tax on 1st reading

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At its Tuesday meeting the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 6-0, meeting minutes for the July 13 meeting.

• Approved, 6-0, to renew the retail liquor store license for Stockmen’s Liquor at 574 Pershing St.

• Approved, 6-0, to renew the 3.2 percent beer retail license for the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 2000 W. Victory Way.

• Approved, 6-0, to award purchase of a skid steer/forklift for the water department to Tri-State Equipment totaling $25,853.18.

• Approved, 5-0, a lease agreement extension with Colorado Northwestern Community College at the Center of Craig for a term of one year totaling $12,000. Council member Gene Bilodeau abstained.

• Approved, 6-0, split the cost of a water line loop with MJK Sales & Feed at its new site development on 1st Street at a total cost not to exceed $25,832.50.

• Heard a June financial report from finance director Bruce Nelson.

• Heard a monthly report for the water and waste water department.

• Heard a presentation of the 2009 city financial statement audit by James Rae.

Note: Mayor Don Jones was absent from the meeting. Council member Terry Carwile served as mayor in Jones’ absence.

The Craig City Council took one of its last steps Tuesday in approving the 6.9-percent lodging tax ballot measure to present to city voters.

But, the decision from the council wasn't unanimous.

The council approved, 5-1 on first reading, to place the 6.9-percent lodging tax ballot question and ordinance before Craig voters in the November election.

A committee of residents worked to draft measure regulating the tax over the last few months.

The committee is proposing the tax be collected in the city and be divided into four categories related to the improvement of tourism in the area. The committee is also proposing two entities manage the lodging tax money.

The committee introduced the measure to the council at its July 13 meeting. The ballot question and ordinance will have to pass the city council once more, on a second reading, before being placed before voters.

Council member Ray Beck voted against the measure and said he would support a 5.9-percent lodging tax.

He said lowering the tax percentage could make the ballot measure more successful with voters in November, and asked the council to consider lowering the tax percentage.

"I know that we are only looking at a dollar based on a $100 bill, and I understand that concept, but I felt if we are going to have an opportunity to pass this, I think there should be a compromise between those that are proponents and those that are opposing it," he said after the meeting.

At its July 13 meeting, the council heard a presentation from several lodging industry representatives who opposed the tax percentage.

The residents also presented a petition signed by 15 area hotel representatives stating the group would support the lodging tax up to 4.9 percent.

Beck said he took the presentation into consideration before voting.

"I voted with my conscious and felt that I voted the right way," he said.

Council member Gene Bilodeau said he was "surprised" at how soon the committee landed on 6.9 percent, but would want to honor the consensus of the residents participating in the committee.

"I think we asked the citizens to come up with an idea and, at least through the first reading, I would like to honor what they come up with," he said.

Council member Byron Willems said he was "on board" with the percentage for the first reading, but said he hasn't personally come to a conclusion on the matter.

"I think our tax payers are smart enough that this will fly or it won't," he said. "I don't think if we change it, it will af-

fect if it will pass or not. I think it this thing will pass at 6.9 (percent) or it will pass at 5.9 (percent) and that 1 percent won't make a decision on if it passes."

Council mulls weighing in on Bresnan saleCouncil mulls weighing in on Bresnan sale

Council mulls weighing in on Bresnan sale

The city council also discussed Tuesday the recent sale of Bresnan Communications to the New York-based Cablevision Systems on June 14 in a deal valued at $1.365 billion.

City Attorney Kenny Wohl presented the council with an opportunity to participate in a coalition of cities affected by the sale being organized by Denver-based attorney Ken Fellman.

The council, however, decided to take no action on joining the coalition, which would have cost the city $5,000, Wohl said.

Wohl said local governments could still have influence on the sale before the acquisition is finalized.

Wohl said several cites and counties have joined the coalition in hopes of ensuring their areas don't experience diminished services when the deal is finalized.

But, keeping the Bresnan office in Craig open, which employs about 7 residents, would be the main topic of focus for the city council, he said.

"We would like to see that office open, but there is nothing in the current agreement that mandates that," he said.

Council member Joe Herod said he would like to see the city write a letter in support of keeping the office open, rather than joining the coalition.

"We can have you write a letter … and save ourselves $5,000 here," he said.

City manager Jim Ferree said he wasn't sure if joining the coalition or writing a letter would ensure the local office stayed open.

"It's a pretty simple request," he said. "They have asked for our consent to the acquisition pursuant to federal law. … I don't know if we can require that, but we can sure make the request that they have a local office."