Snowmass officials make moves to ask voters about expanding tax fund purpose
Potential ballot question could consider additional uses for marketing, lodging taxes
If Snowmass Village officials want to ask voters about expanding the use of marketing and lodging taxes for other purposes — and several Town Council conversations this year have indicated that they do — then the town will need to notify the Pitkin County clerk that they want to reserve the space for any potential questions on the November ballot.
That’s exactly what they plan to do. Council officially directed staff to make that reservation at a meeting on July 18, which keeps the options open to put the question out to voters in November. Town staff had already done some of the administrative legwork, according to the agenda summary for this week’s council discussion.
“Tonight, all you’re saying is yes, this is a question that voters should anticipate,” Town Manager Clint Kinney said. Next up comes the work to develop the ballot language; Kinney said the town would work with an attorney to craft the questions.
Pitkin County Elections will send an intergovernmental agreement for the elections to the town at the end of July for consideration, according to the summary.
“The town council will need to complete and certify ballot language by September 9, 2022, in order to be on the ballot,” according to the summary.
Council members have previously indicated an interest in expanding the use of the current 2.5% marketing tax and 2.4% lodging tax so those funds could potentially also be used for workforce housing needs. Currently, the taxes can go toward marketing, group sales and special events.
Expanding the use of those funds wouldn’t increase taxes, but would broaden the realm of what the town can spend the tax revenue on.
“Your ultimate decision will be what the question is to the voters,” Kinney told the council.
How much of the funds would go to other purposes? That could be addressed in the ballot language or determined later down the line.
“Whatever seems right at the time, it gives you the flexibility to do that, which makes sense because those uses generate a lot of our housing needs,” Councilman Tom Fridstein said.
The 2.5% marketing tax is part of the sales tax in Snowmass Village and currently restricted to tourism marketing, public relations, special events and “actual and necessary expenses of the Marketing, Group Sales and Special Events board for the development of tourism for the benefit of Snowmass Village as a whole,” according to the town’s 2022 budget book.
Voters approved it in November 2002 and its first full year of operation for the fund was 2003.
The tax was projected to bring in about $5.31 million to the fund in 2021 and was budgeted to bring in about $6.19 million in 2022, according to the budget book. Total expenditures for the fund were projected to be about $5.61 million in 2021 and were budgeted to be about $5.99 million in 2022.
The 2.4% lodging tax “is levied on the price paid for the renting or leasing of lodging for less than thirty consecutive days,” according to the 2022 budget book. The funds go toward efforts to attract group sales reservations for the town.
Voters approved the tax in November 2005, the group sales program began operating in July 2006 and the first full year of operation for the fund was 2007.
The tax was projected to bring in about $1.67 million in revenues in 2021 and $2.21 million in 2022, plus some additional miscellaneous revenues, according to this year’s budget book. Expenditures were projected to be about $1.95 million in 2021 and were budgeted to be about $1.97 million in 2022.
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