Jennifer Riley: Yes on lodging tax |

Jennifer Riley: Yes on lodging tax

To the editor:

I am writing to express my support for Referendum 2B, which would provide a municipal lodging tax.

For me, there are many reasons to support this referendum, not the least of which is the additional revenue that will be available to help market new tourism in our community.

I have heard comments from some people who believe that passing a lodging tax is unfair because we're taxing people who, for the most part, don't live in our community and shouldn't have to pay for what we want.

I would argue, however, that our citizens have already paid for a great deal of what travelers enjoy about this community — restaurants, hotels and motels, and shops. Our local government has taken care of our infrastructure — well-maintained roads, law enforcement, a swimming pool and water treatment facility.

Now it's time to take the next step.

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As a Craig City Councilor, I supported referring this referendum to the ballot because I believe in the benefit it will bring to our community.

Craig and Moffat County have many treasures to offer travelers, but we have to get them here first. We are fortunate for the abundance of wildlife that bring hunters in from all across the country, but unfortunately hunting is not a year-round sport.

Bringing more people to Craig benefits everyone — especially the lodging, food and beverage industries.

The proposed lodging tax dedicates more money to marketing tourism than is currently being allocated. The proposed lodging tax also dedicates money to building a facility that will meet the needs of small conventions such as the state Veterans of Foreign Wars convention and the energy summit.

The facility would benefit our community by providing another location for wedding receptions, family reunions, and parties.

And yes, the proposed facility would also double as much-needed gym space. Just before I was elected to the city council, the Moffat County School District approached the council with a proposal for the city to fund building a larger gymnasium at the new middle school. The school district and many residents were adamant that there is a shortage of gym space.

Ultimately, the council did not agree to the funding request, but the need for gym space has not gone away. If the lodging tax passes, the proposed facility — a multi-use event center — will help meet those needs.

I don't think anyone will disagree with me when I say that everyone is feeling the impact of the downturn in our economy.

Every person, every business, every branch of our local government, is trying to figure out how to maintain services with fewer dollars. What services are essential?

This lodging tax will not be used as backfill for the city's general fund. The revenue generated from the lodging tax will be used specifically for marketing tourism, building tourism-related infrastructure such as a multi-use event center, economic development and beautification.

Please join me in voting yes on Referendum 2B.

Jennifer Riley

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