Voters pass Local Marketing District — 1A and 2A also pass | CraigDailyPress.com

Voters pass Local Marketing District — 1A and 2A also pass

Patrick Kelly

Craig resident Megan Cook was the last voter to cast her ballot Tuesday evening at the Moffat County Courthouse for the 2015 election.

Today's election presented Moffat County and Craig residents with ballot initiatives geared toward economic development — all of which passed.

Ballot measures 1A and 2A asked whether the city and county may reestablish the legal ability to provide telecommunication services with public or private sector providers.

Ballot measure 5A establishes a Local Marketing District that will collect a 4 percent tax on rooms and accommodations in Moffat County to be used for economic development ventures.

A total of 3,294 ballots were cast in this year’s Moffat County elections out of 6,910 ballots that were mailed to voters.

Establishing Moffat County's Local Marketing District
Establishing Moffat County’s Local Marketing District

Establishing Moffat County's Local Marketing District

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The creation of the Moffat County Local Marketing District was approved by a vote of 1,678 or 51.9 percent.

"I think it will help our help economic development situation," said Craig Mayor Ray Beck. "It really is exciting."

Votes on the 5A (LMD)

YES: 1,678 — 51.9 percent

NO: 1,553 — 48.07 percent

The resolution was put on the ballot after supporters of the LMD collected signatures from commercial property owners representing 50 percent of the total assessed commercial property value in Moffat County, which is around $18 million.

Forming an LMD is a way for communities to collect funding for economic development, such as promoting tourism, supporting business recruitment, management and development, and organizing public events.

The 4 percent LMD tax will be in addition to the current 1.9 percent lodging tax, which directly funds the Moffat County Tourism Association and a 7.15 percent sales tax. The resulting 13.05 percent room tax is now about 1.5 to 4.5 percentage points higher than those in neighboring Steamboat Springs, Meeker or Vernal, Utah.

Projected revenue from the tax is projected to be $275,000 in the first year. State statute dictates that LMD income must be used for marketing and promoting the county. It cannot be allocated to capital projects.

"This is the opportunity to have a more stable funding source that will help promote Craig and Moffat County in a way we've never been able to do before," Beck said.

The initiative includes a sunset clause to automatically send the LMD back to voters in 10 years to be reapproved or expire.

An initial governing body for the LMD will consist of all members of the boards or councils for Craig, Dinosaur and Moffat County. It will be the responsibility of the initial board to form a regular board, which must consist of at least two representatives from Craig and Moffat County and one from Dinosaur.

Tammie Thompson Booker, corporate director of sales for Mars Hospitality, the company that owns Candlewood Suites, had opposed the ballot measure. Now that it has passed, Booker said she will be watching how the revenue is spent. She also wants to see the lodging industry represented on the regular board.

"There needs to be a lodging person on that board," she said.

Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe said he was extremely excited to hear that the LMD passed and thanked the community for all of its support and engagement.

"I'm just excited about our economic future and the community coming together and supporting all of the hard work,” he said.

Override of Senate Bill 152 — measures 1A and 2A
Override of Senate Bill 152 — measures 1A and 2A

Override of Senate Bill 152 — measures 1A and 2A

An override of the state law prohibiting local government from working with telecommunication providers was approved by both city and county voters.

Votes on broadband overide

1A: YES: 2,555 — 80 percent

NO: 639 — 20 percent

2A: YES: 1,620 — 83.3 percent

No: 325 —16.7 percent

The ability to provide telecom services was restricted by the state legislature in 2005 with the passing of SB 152, which prevents local government from engaging in the provision of telecommunication services directly or indirectly.

In putting the question on the ballot, both Moffat County Commissioners and Craig City Council recognized the importance of high-speed broadband networks in developing the local economy.

"Broadband infrastructure and increased capacity has the potential to be one of the biggest game-changers we've seen in some time in our community," said Audrey Danner, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director. "It is very similar when we paved the roads and electrified the West."

Other rural communities across the state suffering from a lack of telecom infrastructure have previously passed overrides of SB 152.

In 2014, voters in Rio Blanco County passed an override and the county commissioners dedicated $2 million in federal lease revenues and $5 million from its general fund to improve connectivity.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

Votes on the 5A (LMD)

YES: 1,678 — 51.9 percent

NO: 1,553 — 48.07 percent

Votes on broadband overide

1A: YES: 2,555 — 80 percent

NO: 639 — 20 percent

2A: YES: 1,620 — 83.3 percent

No: 325 —16.7 percent

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