Summit County approves two tax-related ballot measures aimed at aiding workforce housing, child care and emergency services
The renewal of a property tax that supports emergency services and a lodging tax to support affordable housing and child care received approval from Summit County voters Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Both measures were submitted by the Summit County government.
As of deadline Tuesday, Measure 1A, the lodging tax, received a 72.8% approval rate, and Measure 1B, the property tax, received an 84.6% approval rate.
Measure 1A calls for taxing any lodging stay, rental or furnishing that is for a period of less than 30 days in unincorporated areas of Summit County, which are those that are outside of official town limits.
Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said the measure was brought to the voters this year after the Colorado House of Representatives successfully passed a bill to lessen restrictions on how counties across Colorado could use lodging tax revenue. Before the bill was signed into law, 100% of any lodging tax revenue could only be used for marketing and tourism advertising.
The change allows counties to use the funds to address the side effects of increased tourism in a community. Lawrence said Summit County intends to use the revenues to support workforce housing projects and child care.
Lawrence noted that the tax likely wouldn’t affect locals directly since visitors and those renting rooms would be paying the new tax.
“I really look at this is a great way of supporting small businesses,” Lawrence said in an interview on Nov. 2, adding that she’s heard many business owners say they don’t have a way to provide housing or child care for their employees.
Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers executive director Julie Koster said she also supported the initiative since it’s fair and equitable regarding who is affected by the taxes.
“We think that the intention behind it and where the funds will be used is really positive for the community. And that’s something that we want to support.”
Republican Party chairperson Mike Tab said he opposes both tax measures because while the measure is important in its own respect, he wanted more information about how the funds would be used.
Measure 1B would extend a 2.391 mill property tax levy to support public safety initiatives like wildfires, health, 911 services and protecting water quality. The measure was designed to not create any additional tax burden when passed.
It was originally passed in 2014 to support public safety infrastructure.
Commissioner Tamara Pogue said the money will be used to fund 911 dispatch infrastructure, public health, water quality, law enforcement and wildfire response.
“It’s really just allowing us to continue public safety work that we already have,” Pogue said in an interview on Nov. 2.
With the county seeing increased tourism recently, Pogue said the measure is an important part of supporting the community.
“Making sure we have enough folks in dispatch to answer 911 calls, making sure that our SMART team is funded moving forward, making sure we have enough dollars for actual wildfire response … that critical infrastructure, having those dollars just to support tourism and our locals is really important,” Pogue said according to past reporting.
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