With Fremont County’s two percent lodging tax facing a December, 2016 sunset, the Board of Commissioners Tuesday voted to place a question on the November ballot asking voters to permanently approve the tax on lodging. The lodging tax was originally approved by voters in 2001 with a five year sunset and was then renewed in 2006 with a ten year sunset. After 14 years of proven experience and reliance on the lodging tax to promote the Royal Gorge region the Board of Commissioners decided it is time to ask the voters to make the tax permanent.
District 2 Commissioner Debbie Bell said it’s important to remember that it’s not Fremont County residents who pay the tax. She said “It’s the people who stay in hotels, motels, campgrounds, vacation rental properties, and anyplace where people pay money to spend the night.” Commission Chairman Ed Norden said if Fremont County did not have the revenues for marketing promotion from the lodging tax in the aftermath of the Royal Gorge wildfire two years ago the recovery of Fremont County’s tourism industry would have looked markedly different.
The Royal Gorge Park is pictured undergoing reconstruction following the June, 2013 wildfire. Lodging Tax revenues along with tourism grants were vital in marketing the tourism message that Fremont County was still open for business
The ballot question that Fremont County voters will consider in November reads: “Without raising additional taxes, shall the existing 2 percent County Lodging Tax, which is imposed only on hotel, motel, guest ranch, campground and other similar overnight accommodations, be extended from its current expiration of Dec. 31, 2016, for an indefinite term, which constitutes no other changes to the voter-approved lodging tax; the proceeds from which are used solely for tourism promotion, marketing and related activities in Fremont County, Colorado?” Yes or No.
There was other good news regarding the county lodging tax that was shared with the Board of Commissioners Tuesday. Budget and Finance Officer Sunny Bryant reported that the county collected $51,021 in lodging tax revenues for the second quarter of 2015. She said that is one of the highest second quarter collections registered in Fremont County for lodging tax. Those lodging tax revenues seem to run parallel with tourism visits to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Park Manager Mike Bandera reports that it was one of the all time best months of July for visitors ever recorded at the Royal Gorge.
The Board of Commissioners Tuesday also approved revisions to Fremont County’s precinct election maps. Fremont County Clerk’s Office Elections Clerk Jami Goff said in order to maintain balance for the number of voters in each precinct the changes will move over 500 voters from precinct 19 in northwest Cañon City to precinct 18. About 700 voters in precinct 11 will be moved into precinct 12. Goff said voters affected by the changes will receive notices in the mail But the changes will mean little to voters. Goff says voters no longer go to vote at specific precinct locations but either vote by mail or at joint precinct voting centers.
The commissioners adopted a proclamation designating September as Kinship Care Month in Fremont County. Carrie Porter of the Department of Human Services reported that 79 families were involved in kinship care in Fremont County last year. She said in most cases kids are placed with either grandparents or other relatives.