A ballot question about levying a 2% lodging tax on rental fees in Eagle County is a step closer to being presented to voters in November. The Eagle County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution certifying the ballot issue, which is now set to be included in the November general election.
The 2% tax would apply to “rental fees, prices or other consideration paid or charged for the rental, sale or furnishing of a room or dwelling for a short-term period”, a period defined up to 30 days. The tax would apply to all short-term accommodation, from hotel stays to Airbnb rentals.
In the past, revenue from such an accommodation tax was reserved for the advertising and marketing of the city, county, or municipality levying the tax. A new bill – HB22-1117, passed in the last legislative session – expanded potential uses to include housing and child care for the local workforce.
Bryan Treu, the county attorney, explained that Eagle County did not feel the need to generate revenue for marketing purposes because visitors were naturally drawn to the area. Now that funds can go toward two of the county’s biggest political priorities, the county is motivated to have visitors pay a premium on rentals to help support the local workforce.
“It gave us an opportunity to maybe help our workforce without putting that tax on them,” Treu said. “It certainly won’t solve our housing and child care issues, but having a dedicated revenue stream paid for by visitors, to support the workforce that supports those visitors, makes a lot of sense.”
The new tax will only affect municipalities that do not yet have an accommodation tax in place, namely the Town of Gypsum and unincorporated areas of Eagle County, including Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. Avon, Basalt, Eagle, Minturn, Red Cliff and Vail all have their own lodging taxes in place, which will replace the county tax.
Only voters directly affected by the new tax will have the opportunity to vote on the ballot issue. If in the long term, the municipality of Gypse chooses to have its own accommodation tax, the municipal tax will prevail over that of the department.
If passed, 10% of tax revenue will be used for advertising and marketing, as required by law, but 90% will go to childcare and affordable housing programs. Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said the tax would help solve the problem the county faces with funding for these programs.
“We’ve always struggled to find a funding stream for child care and affordable housing that doesn’t involve adding a tax on people who were already struggling to afford those items,” Chandler said. Henry. “This, I think, is such a clear link between workforce requirements and workforce needs, so it’s funded by what causes the need.”
“Making out-of-state visitors pay for the impacts caused by a tourism-based economy makes sense,” Treu agreed.
More information about the tax will be shared with the public in the coming months, and voters in Gypsum and unincorporated areas of Eagle County will have the opportunity to approve or reject the ballot initiative on November 8.