New city software to scrape Internet for short-term rentals in Aspen
In what has been a yearslong effort to regulate and collect taxes on residents who use their properties for short-term rentals, the city of Aspen is switching to a more effective software system.
The city had been using a company called Innoprise for its sales and lodging tax software, but it’s unstable and has caused major disruptions to the government and taxpayers, according to City Finance Director Pete Strecker.
Innoprise shared space on a server with the city’s financial and permitting software, Eden.
Last year, the server crashed and Innoprise was down for multiple weeks.
“It prevented folks from filing their monthly tax (payments), or applying for business licenses,” Strecker said.
In response, the city migrated the two software servers to minimize the burden on the server.
But now Strecker and the finance department will use a Durango-based software package that provides a business license and tax remittance portal, as well as a new application that can track short-term rentals that are not complying with city laws.
“We don’t want to wait for the next problem,” Strecker said.
He estimated that there are more than 2,000 short-term rentals in Aspen, and many of them do not have business licenses or pay the 2% lodging and 2.4% city sales taxes.
“This software helps us get our arms around the VRBO world,” Strecker said, adding that the new software scrapes the internet where properties would be listed for rent.
Strecker said the finance department can recoup the $38,000 cost for the software solutions, MuniRevs and LodgingRevs, both through departmental savings and increased revenue when the city captures uncollected tax collections.
The city solicited bids last year for other systems, which came back at around $78,000, but those options were not as robust as what MuniRevs and LodgingRevs offer, according to Strecker.
Snowmass Village also uses that system to collect on short-term rentals.
Strecker said he hopes to have both systems in place this fall for a full roll out at the beginning of 2020.