Craig lodging tax not 2B | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig lodging tax not 2B

Opponent: Council should revisit issue and lower tax rate

Brian Smith

Craig voters rejected the Craig City Council's proposed 6.9-percent lodging tax during Tuesday's general election.

The measure failed by 1,226 votes.

About 72 percent of Craig voters voted against the measure. The final vote total was 767 in favor and 1,993 against.

Randy Looper, a Craig resident and co-owner of the Elk Run Inn, used one word to describe his feelings about the result of the lodging tax vote.

Torn.

"I don't look at this as a win," he said. "Yes, I have been fighting this, but it would have been a positive for the town if the rate would have been lowered."

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Looper was one of several area lodging representatives who opposed the measure. He also started a petition against the measure, which was signed by 15 area hotel representatives, stating the group would support the lodging tax up to 4.9 percent.

A committee of Craig residents developed the lodging tax ordinance and ballot question over several months.

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

Looper said he would like the Craig City Council to start over and re-draft the measure with a "lower percentage rate that would work."

He said the measure might have passed if the 6.9-percent tax would have been lowered.

But, Looper said he still believes a lodging tax is a good idea.

"This town needs to pull together and make it a better place and improve upon what is here," he said.

Going into the election Tuesday, Looper said he had mixed thoughts on whether the measure would pass or fail.

Looper said he had a gut feeling the measure would not pass considering "Craig is an anti-tax town."

"Whatever it is, it is just hard to sell an increase in taxes," he said.

When asked if the lodging industry's opposition of the measure and petition had any effect on the outcome, he said "I don't think it helped."

Looper said if the city council would have lowered the percentage, the lodging industry probably wouldn't have run as much negative publicity about the issue.

"I needed to save my business," he said. "My bottom line is my business."

Craig resident Dave DeRose, who was involved in the process of developing the measure, had few words when asked how he felt about the lodging tax failing in the election.

"This leaves us no marketing and leaves us in the same boat," he said.

DeRose said he was surprised the tax failed by the amount it did, but couldn't "put a hand on" why.

DeRose said it would be "wise" for the city council to revisit the issue and possibly lower the rate percentage for the next election. But, that decision would be left to the city council, he added.

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