Falling tax revenue could limit ACRA | AspenTimes.com

Falling tax revenue could limit ACRA

Naomi HavlenAspen Times Staff Writer

A preliminary projection of this year’s lodging tax revenue indicates the Aspen Chamber Resort Association may have $46,000 less to spend on its marketing efforts than it did last year.ACRA President Hana Pevny said the $380,000 the chamber could receive this year from the tax is just an estimate. The figure is based on the first three quarters of 2002 and an average of how much was made during each quarter of 2001. The final numbers for 2002 will not be ready until the end of January, since ACRA receives the revenue on a quarterly basis.”Although we won’t know what the numbers will be until the end of January, we had a good opening season because of snow, and that makes a lot of difference,” Pevny said. “We’ve also had a tremendous amount of publicity in print and television, which will probably positively affect our tourist-based revenue.”The projection was done so that ACRA can update its budget accordingly. In October the Aspen City Council approved ACRA’s budget, with the directive to use $400,000 from the lodging tax as a baseline for a marketing committee. Pevny said officials will fine-tune the budget later this month to decrease that amount slightly.In 2001 ACRA took in $426,000 from the tax.The marketing committee used some of the funds for ads touting the message, ?The Difference is Night & Day.?In addition, this fall ACRA agreed to use about 18 percent of its budget to promote special events in Aspen, after a vocal campaign was made in favor of more local events by the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission.It’s a lot of tasks to take care of on a small budget, Pevny said, especially with any downturn in revenue.”Our actions are dramatically affected by this ? we had to realign things for special events, and that reduced our ability to execute more public relations, advertising and group sales [promotions],” she said. “And a reduction in revenue makes that impact even greater. We have a small amount of money to market a large brand name to begin with. But we feel comfortable with the plan we’ve put forth.”But even though ACRA has not yet reaped the tax from the bulk of this holiday season, Pevny said she doesn’t expect the marketing fund to shoot through the roof with the later quarter of the year.”We could have a huge season, but I don’t see the fund going up to a half a million just based on a good season,” Pevny said. “Until we have an increase in the lodging tax or an alternative like a resort tax, we are very limited with what we can do with a small amount of money.”But both Pevny and ACRA financial committee member Rick Jones said ACRA doesn’t have a choice when it comes to the revenues: They can’t spend more than they take in.”If there’s less money coming in, there’s less money to be spent,” Jones said. “What comes in is what goes out. Because of timing issues where we’re actually committing to spend money before we have it in our hands, we’re very aware that we don’t want to get into a situation where we’re spending more than we end up with.”[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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