Your ballot, explained: Silverthorne’s lodging tax increase |

Your ballot, explained: Silverthorne’s lodging tax increase

As part of April’s municipal election, town leaders in Silverthorne will ask residents to raise the local lodging tax to triple what it is now.

Currently, the town of Silverthorne has a lodging tax of 2%. Town Manager Ryan Hyland said that usually brings in around $450,000 toward the city’s budget. With the increase, he estimated that lodging taxes could bring in about $1.6 million in 2023.

Where did the ballot question come from?

Hyland said asking voters to potentially raise lodging taxes is not a new conversation.

“Over many years, I think Silverthorne town councils and staff have looked at what are sustainable revenue sources and funding philosophies for the future,” he said. “And so a phrase that gets used frequently is ‘revenue diversification.’”

Specifically, this means that the town would not rely on a single stream of revenue, such as sales tax. Retail sales in Silverthorne town limits are taxed at a rate of 8.375%, which includes 2.9% Colorado state tax, 2% Summit County tax, 0.75% Summit County transit tax, 2% town of Silverthorne tax and 0.725% Summit Combined Housing Authority tax.

Silverthorne has not voted to change the lodging tax since 1998. At the council’s last meeting that included action on the ballot initiative, council members voted unanimously to approve the ballot language.

Where would the money be going?

According to the ballot’s language, money that’s collected through lodging taxes can be used for “any lawful municipal purpose.” That means that there is no restriction or specification about how the city could use the money. Hyland said this leaves council with options as to how they want to spend it, which could include recreation, public safety, transportation and housing.

“The current council’s philosophy is let’s provide the most flexibility that we can for future councils and to determine in conjunction with the community and annual budgeting process where those funds are most needed,” Hyland added. “While they have that flexibility, they have noted in the ballot language, some areas are visitor-impacted because I think there’s a linkage between visitor impact to the community and the lodging tax that they pay.”

Because of the upcoming April election, a future council can decide on specific areas of the city’s scope of using those funds. Right now, Silverthorne Town Council has seven candidates vying for four seats, which means that a future council can decide what they want to spend tax money on.

“We have a fantastic recreation center that sees more and more youth from both visitors and locals. We do have the opportunity space-wise with a plot of land behind the facility to expand,” he said. The expansion of that facility — this is a rough estimate — you’re probably looking at $14 million, and we know what construction costs are doing. That’s just a ballpark example of a type of project that you could begin doing some real saving toward, and planning transportation improvements, as well.”

Does this affect short-term rentals?

Just like other lodging options for visitors, lodging tax affects short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO. Visitors who use those as lodging when they stay in Silverthorne pay the tax just like visitors who opt to stay in hotels or bed and breakfasts. Hyland added that as demand for lodging rises, a higher tax coming from visitors could support larger projects in town.

“We have a number of new hotels, and so an increase in that lodging tax could represent a meaningful increase in the budget now with new hotels,” he said. “So with that changing dynamic and, again, the community’s interest in continuing to enjoy not having a municipal property tax.”

Despite the increase, Hyland said he has not received or heard of any pushback from the lodging community.

“We’ve not heard any objections from any community groups or the lodging community,” Hyland said. “We have reached out to the lodging community on a couple of occasions for input and have not heard any objections.”

Silverthorne Town Council will meet again Wednesday, March 9, when they will see a resolution regarding the ballot question. Hyland said he and the council hope that all eligible Silverthorne residents will vote in April’s election so their voices can be reflected in upcoming decisions.

Ballot Issue No. 1

Shall the town of Silverthorne taxes be increased by $2.4 million in the first full fiscal year of collection (2023) beginning July 1, 2022, and by such other amounts raised annually thereafter by the imposition of an excise tax on lodging in the amount of 6% (which authorization represents the repeal and replacement of the 2% voter authorization approved by the town voters in 1998) with the revenues of such lodging tax to be spent on any lawful municipal purpose, including, but not limited to, community projects and services addressing visitor impacts in the areas of recreation, public safety, transportation and housing, and shall all revenues from such taxes and any earnings thereon be collected, retained and spent as a voter-approved revenue change without limitation or condition, and notwithstanding any revenue or expenditure limitations contained in Article X Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution or any other law?

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