Randy and Cindy Looper: Ref. 2B — Vote no, vote to try again | CraigDailyPress.com

Randy and Cindy Looper: Ref. 2B — Vote no, vote to try again

Randy and Cindy Looper, Owners of Elk Run Inn

The lodging tax issue, or Referendum 2B, is one of the many decisions you must make next week. Before you decide how you want to vote on this measure, please make sure that you are not deceived by the propaganda.

We have read several times that the tax is only 6.9 percent, and will mean only $5 on an average room.

Please be aware that this 6.9 percent is on top of the other state, and local taxes for a grand total of 14.05 percent. Based on the $90 rate that has been discussed, the total for the room goes from $98.15 at the current tax rate to $102.65 at the proposed rate. This is where the “mere” $5 makes a difference.

You are crossing a price break where people will react negatively. To offset this, most hotels will be forced to lower their rates. So, in effect, the hotels will be paying a portion of this tax to keep their customers coming back.

We agree with the fact that people do not care what the lodging tax rate is. But again, don’t be deceived, they do care what the total is. Tourists just passing through will probably pay it and grumble. People who have a choice will find other options.

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The lodging rates in Steamboat Springs and Craig are very competitive for most of the year. If you are a traveling salesman with a fixed travel budget, would you continue on to your next location that has more to offer and it will save you money? We think they will, and business travelers are about 80 percent of the current customers.

A county resident had an insightful comment at the forum Wednesday. He asked what people who travel through this area will think of Craig. Will they think of Craig as one expensive town to visit?

Is that how we are going to attract more visitors? It’s unfortunate that the posters and signs all over town right now, during the second hunting season, promote raising taxes. “Travelers won’t notice the difference.” Believe it or not, hunters can read.

The proponents of this tax will deny that we will be one of the highest tax rates in the state if you choose to vote for 2B.

Find out yourself. Go to hotel websites (not others that might charge extra fees) and book rooms in different towns. Divide the amount of the tax by the rate of the room and you find out their tax rate.

We found that the tax rates in Meeker are 8.4 percent, Rifle 9.9 percent, Glenwood Springs 11.1 percent, Grand Junction 10.65 percent, Granby 9.7 percent, Steamboat Springs 12.4 percent, Denver west 10.6 percent and downtown Denver 14.85 percent.

Our rate would be 14.05 percent if 2B passes.

We have no dispute that something needs to be done. We agree that we need to promote tourism, and also agree that we need to have more to offer as far as infrastructure.

It is just very disappointing to us that the Craig City Council could not see fit to put forward a rate that we felt we could support.

At the beginning, the lodgers (all 15 of them) asked the city not to put forward a tax rate higher than 5 percent. They chose to disagree and thus we have this debate.

Several other options could have been considered regarding this proposal. Other cities exempt hotels from charging the city tax if there is a lodging tax.

The tax rate could have been implemented on a rolling basis, over a number of years. Other ideas never seem to have been considered.

Please consider this and vote no. Vote to try again.

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