Moffat County, area officials discuss lodging tax, medical pot measures
November 2, 2010
Craig City Council member Terry Carwile said he is nervously but anxiously awaiting the results of how Craig residents vote on Referendum 2B, the city's lodging tax proposal, during today's general election.
He said the same was true for the group Progress for Craig, which worked throughout the last several months to support the proposed 6.9-percent city lodging tax and educate voters about its benefits.
"There is always just that little nervousness about the unknown — you never know what it is going to look like until a little bit after 7 p.m.," Carwile said.
The city council member said he was "cautiously optimistic" the measure would pass. Carwile's hesitation, he said, comes from the general labor of promoting an idea to voters.
"You just have a difficult task trying to penetrate the atmosphere when it comes to trying to get a message out to the public," he said. "It is just extraordinarily difficult to do that no matter what your effort is."
Christina Oxley, a member of Progress for Craig and executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said it was difficult for her to predict if voters would give the thumbs up to the measure.
Oxley said many misconceptions still exist among Craig voters. But, the committee "did everything we could in the time we had" to dispel those misconceptions, she said.
"You always want more time … (and) face-to-face time to discuss the issues and the misconceptions and really try to educate people, and we find that the best way to do that is on a person-to-person basis," she said. "But, the time that we had we used really wisely."
Oxley said there are several misconceptions about the tax, which would be collected and divided into four areas related to the promotion of tourism in the area.
The first misconception, Oxley said, is the funds would be used to build a recreation center or a new Chamber of Commerce building.
"That is not something that anybody has really ever discussed," she said. "There are capital dollars available if this passes, but the committee (that would) look at how that would be spent hasn't even been formed yet."
Oxley said another misconception is that if the tax passes, it would make Craig's tax on lodging establishments the highest in the state — something she said is wrong and "disappointing."
"The overall sales tax and the lodging tax would put us right about in the middle of the state, and I think that is a reasonable place for a community to be," she said.
Carwile said passing the lodging tax is a chance for "our community to take a step toward independence."
"It would also be beneficial if folks would focus on what the benefit to the community will be if this passes instead of being so unduly concerned about what the rate is," he said. "It is not about the rate, it is about what the measure can bring to the community in terms of benefits."
2 medical marijuana issues on ballot
Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he was doubtful voters would approve medical marijuana dispensaries to be allowed in the unincorporated parts of the county during today's election.
The county commission placed Referendum 1A on the ballot, which asks all Moffat County voters if they want to prohibit such dispensaries.
"We have one medical marijuana outlet in Moffat County … and if medical marijuana is used the way it is supposed to be used, that should be plenty," he said.
Mathers said he was surprised the measure hasn't been a hotter topic this election season.
"Nobody has said anything about it," he said. "It has been the quietest ballot issue I have ever heard (of)."
Mathers said he thinks the majority of people that are going to vote on the matter are those who have already decided "they don't really want it here."
If the measure fails, Mathers said the commission would start the process of drafting rules and regulations for dispensaries.
"I am not sure what that is because the state keeps saying they're going to come out with rules (and) regulations," he said. "They are stumbling and falling over their own feet. They're not sure quite how to regulate this, either."
Dinosaur voters will have a similar question on their ballots today. Referendum 2A asks Dinosaur voters if they would permit medical marijuana dispensaries in town limits.
Mayor L.D. Smith said he was unsure if the measure would pass and he thought it was a "50-50 shot."
If the measure passes, Smith said the town council would draft regulations similar to current state guidelines.