Voters approve Silverthorne lodging tax hike
Silverthorne short-term lodging taxes will triple starting July 1 thanks to voter approval of Ballot Measure No. 1.
About 74.6% of registered voters in Silverthorne approved the measure, which will raise the tax on lodging from 2% to 6%. It is the first time the town has voted to raise the tax rate since 1998.
The increase is expected to raise $2.4 million annually, which the town can use to pay for any municipal purpose. The ballot language specifies that the town can use the money to support community projects and services that address visitor impacts on recreation, public safety, transportation and housing.
Town officials have said the ballot language is intended to allow for as much flexibility on spending as possible. However, Silverthorne Town Council can choose to create stipulations, placing limits on how the tax dollars can be spent.
The council will have the opportunity to discuss how the town will use the extra revenue during its budgeting process this summer.
“There are a variety of projects that have been discussed for a long time but not really had funding allocated or savings started for them – (a recreation) center expansion, a police facility, some transportation improvements,” Town Manager Ryan Hyland said after results came in. “All of these will be on the table for council to discuss.”
The tax, which has been set at 2% since 1998, applies to any lodging businesses that rent to visitors for 30 or fewer days, including hotels, motels and short-term rentals. When voters first approved the tax, they also approved fund usage, designating 85% of the tax revenue to parks, trails and open space acquisitions and 15% to town marketing, according to the draft ballot measure presented to Town Council on Dec. 8.
The Town Council voted unanimously to bring the tax increase to the April 2022 ballot at a Jan. 26 meeting. At the time, town officials said the goal was to diversify Silverthorne’s revenue.
“It’s exciting from the perspective that it opens up a new opportunity for funding for some different projects,” Hyland said Tuesday night.
In 2018, Silverthorne voters shot down a proposed property tax. Without the help of the added property tax, the town funds its operations by using the lodging and retail sales taxes. Currently, the town’s retail sales tax rate is 8.375%.
The idea of a lodging tax isn’t new. Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco all have lodging taxes. However, now that the 6% rate has been approved, Silverthorne will have the highest lodging tax rate of any town in Summit County.
Breckenridge, which refers to its tax as the accommodations tax, used to have the highest lodging tax rate at 3.4%. Frisco’s rate is 2.35% and Dillon’s is 2%.
In the next few years, Summit County voters may be asked to approve another lodging tax for the unincorporated parts of the county, which include Keystone.
On March 31, Gov. Jared Polis signed a law allowing counties more freedom in how they use lodging tax revenue. In the past, counties were allowed to use revenue collected through a lodging tax only to pay for marketing materials.
Now, counties can also use those funds to support projects for housing and child care. The law also allows the funds to be used on projects that facilitate or enhance visitor experiences.
Currently, the county does not have a lodging tax because of the previous restrictions on how funds can be used. In March, Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence told the Summit Daily News that the county intends to bring a lodging tax onto a future ballot.
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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