Craig lodging tax committee finalizes ordinance | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig lodging tax committee finalizes ordinance

Brian Smith

The Craig lodging tax committee approved Wednesday the ordinance and ballot question it has worked throughout the last few months to draft.

The ordinance and ballot question will be introduced to the Craig City Council at its July 13 meeting.

The city council must approve the ordinance and ballot question before they can be placed before voters in the November election.

The committee is proposing a 6.9-percent lodging tax be collected in the city and divided into four categories related to improvement of tourism in the area.

In the ballot question, the committee earmarked 3 percent of the tax for tourism marketing, 3 percent for capitol improvements, .6 percent for economic development and .3 percent for community beautification.

The ordinance stipulates that funds collected from the tax will be managed by two entities.

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The first entity would be a board of oversight comprised of three members. It will manage 3.9 percent of the lodging tax set aside for capitol improvements, community beautification and economic development. Members will be appointed by the city council.

The second entity would be a committee comprised of five Moffat County or Craig residents and one, non-voting ex-officio city councilor.

It would be broken down to include two members from the lodging industry, two residents at large and one representative from the restaurant and bar industry. It will be responsible for 3 percent of the tax earmarked for tourism development and marketing, and hiring a committee director.

City attorney Kenny Wohl started the lodging tax committee meeting Wednesday by presenting the committee with two draft ordinances — a short, 4-page draft and a longer, 15-page draft.

The committee agreed the shorter ordinance would be better to present to voters.

The committee, however, spent the majority of the meeting discussing sections of the larger draft that needed to be included in the smaller draft.

One section outlining how the tax would be used — including the purpose of the tax, the role the city council plays in the management of the tax and the organization of the two managing entities — was included in the smaller ordinance.

Craig resident Pam Foster voiced concerns about whether the managing entities should be made up of only city residents or all Moffat County residents.

Foster also asked if the residents should be property owners and what the definition of a resident would be.

"We have a lot of people that have come in for a short period of time and they either stir up trouble, or they do something (and) leave us with a big debt and they're gone," she said.

Committee chairman Dave DeRose said he felt the committees shouldn't restrict themselves in the way the county's lodging tax is currently restricted by state statutes.

"The bottom line is that I don't want to see us get so restricted by those kinds of things that we can't put people on it," he said.

The committee voted to allow residents from either Craig or Moffat County to serve on either board.

The committee also discussed whether to stipulate if capitol improvements should be built in the county or the city, ultimately deciding to leave the development in the city.

"I kind of like just leaving the city in it so that we get the things done in the city that I think we need to do first," DeRose said. "And then, once we are done in the city and we have got conventions coming here and we decided we want to do something else in the county, then we can do that by amending the ordinance."

The committee also discussed starting a political action group to market the ballot measure to voters, but took no action.

EDP weighs in on tax

During its board meeting Wednesday, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership discussed the lodging tax.

EDP Director Darcy Trask said the tax received strong support from EDP members.

Trask said board members felt "the inclusion of economic development was critical, and a strong tourism community and a strong economy are very closely tied."

She said several board members would become more involved in the process of supporting the measure.

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