ACRA collects about $275K more than expected from tax |

ACRA collects about $275K more than expected from tax

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

The lodging tax dedicated to Aspen’s destination marketing produced about $275,000 over the estimated $2 million budget in 2014, according to a memorandum to the Aspen City Council.

On Monday, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association will brief the council on how it plans to spend the cash, which includes the hiring of an office manager at $49,300 as well as a $50,000 arts-and-culture campaign.

The lodging tax, which was increased from 1 percent to 2 percent in 2010 by voters, is collected each time a visitor pays for a hotel room in Aspen. It is divided between the chamber and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, with the chamber receiving 75 percent of the revenue. Before the 2010 increase, the revenue was divided evenly, so the increase effectively tripled the chamber’s budget.

Julia Theisen, vice president of sales and marketing for the chamber, said the extra revenue was not a surprise, as officials monitor monthly consumption reports.

“If their projection was for any reason over budget, I would see that throughout the year and have to pull back on spending,” Theisen said. “So it’s not a big surprise we have $275,000 sitting there. It’s something that we’ve been planning for and looking at all year.”

With the increased budget comes increased programming, and Theisen said the office manager will allow existing staff to focus on sales and marketing. According to the memo, the arts-and-culture program is one of the organization’s key initiatives.

“The arts-and-culture campaign came out of conversations with some of our key stakeholders who wanted to see more representation for all the arts and culture that drive tourism in the summer,” Theisen said. “Our existing campaign is more focused on outdoors and dining, and we wanted to broaden that.”

Other expenses include a $20,000 campaign for the spring and fall seasons, a $20,000 video series, $25,000 for photography, $25,000 for a Fourth of July laser show, $15,000 for the X Games, a $20,000 wedding campaign, $10,000 for updated B-roll footage, $8,000 for website enhancements, and $7,500 for seasonal marketing.

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