Frisco lodging community mixed about proposed tax
FRISCO – Frisco lodging representatives are mixed about a proposed lodging tax for the town – some believe it could be used to help bring more people to town, while others fear it will only hurt businesses.
“I see this as probably our one opportunity to take this lodging tax and do something really beneficial – not only for the town, but for the economy,” Scott Brunvand said at a Wednesday meeting between Frisco lodging representatives and town officials. Brunvand is the general manager of the Best Western Lake Dillon Lodge in Frisco. “I just want to be very careful the way we apply those funds.”
On Tuesday, council members agreed they would like to adopt a lodging tax – a tax that wouldn’t burden its citizens because it would be paid by tourists. Such a tax, which would be a percentage of fees paid for lodging, would bring in about $160,000 per percent.
While council members batted around a 3 to 5 percent lodging tax, those in the lodging community said they would like to avoid an additional cost that would bring the customers’ total taxes above 10 percent. Since Frisco’s tax is now 7.65 percent, that would cap the lodging tax at 2.35 percent – which would generate about $376,000 a year.
Murray Bain, owner of Bighorn Rentals in Frisco, said he has used the town’s low taxes to steer customers from Breckenridge to Frisco (Breckenridge’s taxes total just over 10 percent).
Mary Bigler, owner of 5 Mtn’s Inn on Main Street, said she’s afraid she’ll lose customers if Frisco’s tax exceeds 10 percent.
Lodging representatives supporting the proposed tax did so with one caveat – the money collected from the tax must be used to further tourism and bring more visitors to Frisco.
To Brunvand, that means a convention center or perhaps an ice arena. Bain said he would like to see the town build a large facility but would also like the town to use the money to help create an image for itself.
“We need more things to create an identity,” Bain said. “We need some sort of lodging tax that will help us create that identity.”
Still others said they would like the town to use some of the money to market Frisco to bring more people to town.
According to Town Manager Alan Briley, the town currently has $250,000 budgeted for advertising, marketing and special events. Only $40,000 of that is tagged for advertising.
All lodging representatives seemed to agree that town officials must specify what the money will be used for before the proposed tax goes on November’s ballot.
“If I support this, I want something that’s explicit on the ballot,” said Mark Waldman, who, along with his wife Mary, owns Hotel Frisco. Waldman said he will not support the tax if Frisco officials put the money into the town’s general fund or use it for parks and recreation.
Roughly 60 percent of the people representing 12 of Frisco’s lodging facilities at Wednesday’s meeting supported the tax. The rest said it would do more damage than good.
“For me, personally, as far as business goes, the lodging tax could just kill me,” said Sylvia Conway, who owns the hostel Just Bunks.
“I don’t think the time is right,” said Bob Cison, owner of the New Summit Inn, adding that his business has suffered enough from the effects of Sept. 11, the sluggish economy, the drought and last summer’s wildfires. “Maybe two or three years from now, yes. But not right now.”
Several people agreed the lodging tax would hurt their already struggling businesses.
“It would hurt the little guys more than the big guys,” Bigler said.
Wednesday’s meeting between Frisco officials and the lodging representatives was scheduled to ascertain the lodging community’s sentiment about the proposed tax, not to make any final decisions, said Frisco Assistant Town Manager Theresa Casey.
“I think what we gained from it is a lot of insight from the lodging community as to what they want and how they’re feeling right now,” she said.
The council is scheduled to continue the lodging tax discussion at its next meeting, June 24.
Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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