Craig lodging tax committee focusing on education |

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Craig lodging tax committee focusing on education

Also at the meeting

In other news, the Craig City Council also:

• Approved, 5-0, Sept. 14 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 5-0, renewing the 3.2-percent beer retail license for Kum & Go stores at 895 Yampa Ave., 1302 W. Victory Way and 700 E. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

• Approved, 5-0, a special event permit for the Craig Chamber of Commerce to host Crabfest on Oct. 23 at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, 1324 E. U.S. Highway 40.

• Approved, 5-0, to award purchase of a new, voice over IP phone system for Craig City Hall to Front Range Internet Inc., for a first year cost of $27,523.43 and a yearly cost of $7,998.96.

• Approved, 5-0, ordinance No. 1008 to amend Section 9.42.040 of the Craig Municipal Code to conform to state noise laws concerning motor vehicles engaging an engine compression brake device. First reading.

• Approved, 5-0, to enter into executive session to discuss the lease of the Moffat County Public Safety Center and to receive legal advice.

• Heard a presentation from the Chargers of the Doak Walker football league.

• Heard a monthly report from Finance Director Bruce Nelson.

• Heard monthly reports for the water and wastewater departments.

— Council members Byron Willems and Terry Carwile were absent from the meeting.

Craig resident Dave DeRose said he sees no reason why Craig voters should not pass a proposed lodging tax ballot question in November.

But, DeRose recognizes the importance of educating the community about why he and other supporters believe the 6.9-percent tax on lodging establishments in the city would benefit the area.

"If we don't change the way we do business, we're in trouble, and this is a way to change the way we do business," he said. "I firmly believe that if we do nothing, this is the best it is going to get. But, if we pass the lodging tax and really start marketing ourselves, this will be the worst it will ever be."

In hopes of spreading that message, DeRose has helped organize a group of residents tasked with promoting the lodging tax measure placed on the ballot by the Craig City Council.

A committee of residents worked for several months to shape the measure, which proposes dividing the tax into four categories related to the improvement of tourism in the area.

DeRose said the education committee has met twice, and plans to meet each week leading up to the November general election. The committee's next meeting is at noon Thursday at The Memorial Hospital. The committee welcomes those who wish to support the tax, but residents must call 824-5689 to RSVP.

The education committee outlined several ways it would like to promote the ballot measure in its previous meetings, DeRose said.

The committee plans to speak with various community clubs and organizations, distribute brochures and talk with lodging industry representatives in addition to traditional advertising and yard signs, he said.

The committee is also working to launch a website promoting the potential tax, DeRose said.

DeRose said, however, the best way to promote the tax is through face-to-face discussions with voters.

"I think that gives the people in opposition a chance to speak their mind … and it gives the chance to answer questions on both sides of the fence," he said. "I just really like the way that works."

Christina Oxley, Craig Chamber of Commerce director and a member of the committee, said the group should have enough time to educate the community about the benefits of the tax before the election.

"It is going to have to be (enough time)," she said. "You always wish for more time, particularly if it is a complicated question, but this isn't a complicated question."

Oxley said she hopes to educate residents that, for the most part, they would not pay the tax.

"It is going to increase the average room rate by about $4," she said. "I truly don't believe that travelers will notice that difference, but our community will."

Council member Jennifer Riley said she attended a recent lodging tax committee meeting.

Riley said the group would be able to successfully educate residents about the benefits of the tax before the November election because of the committee's size and diversity.

"We all have different reaches to different parts of this community, and there will be a number of us going out to various community service organizations," she said.

However, if the election was today, Riley said the tax would not pass.

"The very first line is, 'Shall the city of Craig taxes be increased?'" she said. "Well, an uneducated voter is going to naturally respond … no. No, I don't want my taxes to go up.

"I think we need to do our part, and explain to them what taxes are going to be increased and what that means."

But, Riley is "cautiously optimistic" the tax will pass in November.

Oxley said the committee's future plans with the money raised from the tax would make a positive difference in Craig's future by diversifying its economy.

"We need to look at ways to diversify what our economic drivers are," she said. "I don't think tourism is the savior, but I think that it is absolutely a key player."