Chris Jones: Ref. 2B — A step forward |

Chris Jones: Ref. 2B — A step forward

This Tuesday, Craig residents will vote on Referendum 2B, the proposed city lodging tax. Referendum 2B is more than a ballot initiative. Referendum 2B is a grassroots effort from the citizens of Craig to grow our tourism industry and diversify the local economy.

Vote yes for 2B and vote for Craig’s future. Vote no and vote against progress.

Unfortunately, the fear of the unknown has created a misperception of 2B within the community. This misperception is fueled by individuals presenting opinion as fact and by opponents sensationalizing the impact of the proposed tax.

As you prepare to cast your ballot Tuesday, it is time to replace rumors with facts and opinions with realities.

Below is a list of falsehoods circulating the community about Referendum 2B.

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These are rumors and are simply not true.

• Referendum 2B will fund the City of Craig’s general fund. False, the ballot language specifically states “no revenue derived from said lodging tax shall be placed in the city’s general fund.”

• The money collected for capital improvements will be used to build a recreation center or a new building for the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

False, the lodging tax does allocate a portion of the tax for capital improvements. These improvements are dedicated specifically to building and improving amenities that will increase tourism. A new recreation center or Chamber of Commerce building is not such an amenity.

• The hotel owners will pay the increase in tax. False, the lodging customers pay the taxes. When you travel to other cities, you pay the local tax, not the hotel owners.

The facts of Referendum 2B are simple.

The proposed lodging tax of 6.9 percent will replace the current county lodging tax of 1.9 percent. The opponents of 2B decry the percentage increase between the existing rate and the proposed rate.

If Referendum 2B passes, the travelers paying this tax will not be concerned with the percentage increase; rather they will be concerned with the dollar amount (if they ask at all). Using an average room rate of $90, the increase in lodging tax will cost the guest an additional $4.50 per night.

How does $4.50 help Craig’s future?

Using an average of lodging revenue from years 2007 to 2009, Referendum 2B would generate $550,000 per year (this is the same figure voters will see on Tuesday’s ballot).

Beyond the numbers, the money generated represents the largest investment this community has made to grow its tourism industry. This investment includes more money for marketing and advertising. It also includes a newfound investment in the capital infrastructure necessary to attract conventions, regional meetings, and other events currently not sustainable by Craig’s resources.

One understated value of Referendum 2B is the control it gives Craig to shape its future.

In the past few months, this community has labored in protests and letter writing campaigns to the state of Colorado and federal government contesting their meddling in the energy industries that drive our economy.

As fervent as these efforts have been, they are reactionary. The future of this community hinges on our ability to be proactive. Referendum 2B is the perfect opportunity for Craig to control its destiny.

Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.”

Referendum 2B is change in the right direction. It is change that puts Craig in charge of its future. It is change that strengthens our economy.

Referendum 2B is a ballot measure designed to invest in Craig’s future. It is time for Craig citizens to invest in our future. Vote yes on 2B.

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