MCTA mulls lodging tax position
October 7, 2010
The Moffat County Tourism Association discussed Wednesday the possibility of taking a formal stance on the Craig City Council's proposed 6.9-percent lodging tax.
The MCTA board mulled the decision to support or oppose the tax at its regular monthly meeting, but made no official decision on the matter.
However, the board reached a general consensus to remain neutral on the subject.
The lodging tax measure proposes dividing the 6.9-percent tax into four categories related to the improvement of tourism in the area. City voters will decide the tax's fate in the Nov. 2 general election.
MCTA Director Marilynn Hill said the item was placed on the board's agenda because the organization had not previously taken a stand on the issue nor discussed the matter openly in a public setting.
Bryce Jacobson, an MCTA board member and Craig Daily Press publisher, said the organization has "a responsibility to the tourism of Moffat County to have our voice heard" on where the organization stands on the issue.
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"The Craig lodging tax obviously will affect our income and our revenue, in the event it is passed, in large amounts," he said.
Jacobson said opposing or supporting the tax is a "big decision" and it is "important that MCTA doesn't just sit back and sing 'Kumbaya,' but actually know that something is happening that might actually impact" the organization.
MCTA board chairwoman Annie MacGregor said residents could misinterpret MCTA's actions regarding its support or opposition of the proposed tax as those of the Moffat County Commission.
Commissioner Audrey Danner said she "would caution" the board in proceeding and possibly taking a position on "any issue."
MacGregor said the board should consider that the county commission hasn't discussed nor taken a stance on the issue at a public meeting.
"Why would we be any different if we are a county board?" she said.
Jacobson said he thought it was "silly to just sit back" and allow MCTA's revenue stream "either go away or be threatened to go away, and not do something about it."
"The county commissioners have put all of us in these positions to do something other than maybe just choose 'yes' or 'no' on spending money," he said.
Moreover, Jacobson said taking a stance and supporting or opposing the issue would give MCTA "some credibility."
"Let's not be quiet about the fact that the MCTA board has some questions in the community about how effective we are and what we do, what role it plays and how effectively we manage the money," he said.
Board member Kandee Dilldine said taking a stance on the lodging tax could negatively affect public relations between MCTA and county residents.
"If we say we are for it, then you are going to have those people who are going to be saying 'How can they be for it?'" she said. "Or, if we are against it, then they are going to say, 'Oh, well how can we be against it? It is promoting tourism.'"
Either way, Dilldine said the organization is "going to get slammed" by public perception.
Jacobson responded by saying the organization is "getting slammed every day."
After the meeting, Hill declined to comment at length about the board's decision.
"Really, they want to stay neutral," she said of the board. "So, I really need to abide by their wishes to stay neutral."
However, Hill said, there are "pros and cons" to the proposed Craig lodging tax.