Craig Tea Party Patriots host meeting on Local Marketing District
Local government discuses new taxing district
March 10, 2016
The Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots hosted a panel session with members of city and county government to answer questions on the Moffat County Local Marketing District on Thursday.
Sitting on the panel were Moffat County Commissioners Chuck Grobe and Frank Moe and Craig City Councilmembers John Ponikvar and Tony Bohrer.
The local government officials took questions and comments from the audience and discussed what is in store with the LMD.
"Right now, we are working on bylaws and trying to get a mission statement," Ponikvar said.
Concerns brought up by audience members included how the board will be formed, how it will affect the lodging industry and what will be done with the funds collected.
Tammie Thompson-Booker, director of sales at Candlewood Suites, said the lodging industry should have a place on the board because it is the one paying the tax.
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The panelists reassured the audience that patience and teamwork is key with structuring the LMD and rushing the process may lead to problems down the road.
As criticism came in, mostly about the LMD's rapid formation, Bohrer reminded the audience that voters formed the LMD — not members of city our county government.
"(We) did not just say 'guess what we're gonna do? Pass,'" he said, pretending to stamp a document. "You guys did."
The creation of the LMD was approved by a vote of 1,678 or 51.9 percent in November. It will collect a tax for funding economic development ventures, 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.
Ed Price, owner of KOA campground, asked that recreational vehicle campsites be exempt from the tax because his business has a hard enough time competing with Walmart, the fairgrounds and state parks.
"I'm competing against people that are not paying the tax," he said.
Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid went on the record in support of the LMD and encouraged the community focus on moving forward together.
"If we don't tear ourselves apart, we're going to get somewhere" he said.
Matt Winey, head of Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots, moderated the conversation throughout the panel session and tried to keep the discussion focused on forward progress.
"If we care about this community, we have to go forward with this. How do we do that?" Winey said, directing critical audience members back onto topic.
Moe followed up with a similar comment.
"Do we want to wallow in self pity … or do we want to say we're up to the challenge?" Moe said.