Craig City Council mulls lodging tax proposal | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig City Council mulls lodging tax proposal

Brian Smith

The Craig City Council addressed the proposed 6.9-percent lodging tax ordinance and ballot question developed over the last few months at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The council heard two sides of the issue — one from the lodging tax committee that developed the ballot question and ordinance, and the other from several residents of the Craig lodging industry who opposed the tax percentage.

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.

Lodging committee chairman Dave DeRose introduced the ballot question and ordinance to city council.

"You have got to market (Craig) so that all the hotels will fill up," he said. "I realize that they never all will, and that's OK.

"But if you don't do something, as an industry and as a community, this industry will be in trouble. We are overbuilt."

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After the lodging tax's introduction, the city council weighed in on the issue.

The council reached general agreement that the tax is a good idea, although some members took issue with certain items contained in the ordinance.

A group of representatives from the lodging industry then presented a signed petition opposing the rate of the proposed tax to the council.

The petition, which was signed by 15 area hotel representatives, states the group would support the lodging tax up to 4.9 percent.

"Any percentage over that amount we feel would be detrimental to the lodging business in Craig," the petition states. "The majority of our customers are business travelers who will be passing any increases to their clients as a cost of doing business to those within our community."

Randy Looper, who co-owns the Elk Run Inn, led the group who presented their individual cases to the council to lower the proposed tax.

"In ten years, the small mom and pops will be out of business, I'll tell you that right now," he said. "If you pass this at that rate, and the economy stays the way it is, we'll be gone."

Tammie Thompson-Booker, regional director of sales for Candlewood Inn & Suites, attended the meeting to voice her concerns.

She said if the 6.9 percent tax is approved, it would make the total taxes collected on hotels in Craig higher than other cities in the region.

"Us getting this tax now, if it passes in November, not seeing the collection of that until mid-year next year, is not going to save my business or anyone else's business in the meantime," she said. "It could certainly force people to go other places."

Craig voters will ultimately decide if the tax is passed in November's general election.

City council members are required to approve the ordinance and ballot question twice after its introduction before it can be placed on the ballot.

In other news

At its Tuesday meeting the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 7-0, June bills totaling $651,943.87

• Approved, 7-0, to renew the tavern liquor license for Mathers’ Bar, Inc.

• Approved, 7-0, to proclaim the week of July 24 as disability awareness week.

• Approved, 7-0, to award curb and gutter work on Steele and Fourth Streets to Precision Excavating totaling $37,240.62.

• Approved, 7-0, to award the Craig water plant improvement project to Connell Resources in the amount of $128,048.95 and to add an additional $54,000 and $17,950 for additional asphalt work to the contract.

• Approved, 7-0, resolution No. 9 amending article 14 of the City of Craig Personnel Policies manual.

• Approved, 7-0, a bid for the Craig/Moffat Airport runway project from Hi-Lite Marking totaling $98,244 and a draft grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for $75,000.

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