Do you want to pay the Lodging Tax?
Informal Pinedale Online Poll
by Dawn Ballou
October 27, 2004
In addition to all the political races to be decided on Tuesday, locally we have another large issue to be decided which directly affects you, our Pinedale visitors. The county will be voting on whether or not to continue imposing a 3% Lodging Tax on room rates for overnight stays in Sublette County. This tax has been in effect in the county for the past four years and is now up to the local residents for vote on whether or not to renew it for another four years.
For the past four years, you visitors who stayed overnight in any lodging establishment in the county paid the standard 4% Wyoming state sales tax plus an additional 3% county-wide Lodging Tax. The purpose of the tax is to pay for advertising to promote the assets of the area to out-of-county people via print media, TV and radio advertising. The advertising is required to be all out-of county advertising, not local, to specifically result in more "heads in beds" and create more overnight stays to better fill up the local lodging establishments. You pay this tax if you have an overnight stay in a motel, guest ranch, Bed & Breakfast or with a back-country outfitter trip anywhere in the county, including up to Green River Lakes, on Fremont or Half Moon Lakes resorts, in Big Piney and Marbleton, the Hoback & Bondurant, Boulder and at Boulder Lake, and all the way down to Big Sandy Lodge in the southern Winds.
The big sales pitch the local county residents are hearing from the committee to retain the Lodging Tax is that this is "The Tax We Don't Pay". Paid newspaper ads say, "Let those who stay in our community pay our lodging tax." Voters have been told that without this tax, the state of Wyoming would increase the tax each man, woman and child in Wyoming would pay by $450 per year.
The Lodging Tax generates around $110,000 in revenue each year, of which 10% is divided out and spread among the local towns for their general fund. In 2003, about $22,000 went to grants to local organizations who requested funding for their out-of-area advertising for youth, non-profit and for-profit events. $70,000 was earmarked for general advertising (visitor guide, print media ads, website, radio advertising, trade show representation). $40,000/year (plus expenses) went to fund the Tourism Board Directors. Through this tax you, the Visitors, are also paying 90% of the operating cost of the county Chamber of Commerce and visitor center.
Bear in mind that our county is in the midst of a huge oil and gas boom, and these companies greatly impact our area lodging availability and donations to local events. Many local lodging establishments have been almost completely booked this past year due to the need to provide long-term housing for oil and gas field workers. Over the past four years, Oil and Gas companies often donated generously towards many local events, including $10,000 towards the recent Pinedale Half Marathon, funding the Green River Rendezvous Pageant so that visitors could get in free several years in a row instead of paying an entry fee, donating towards local Pinedale Fine Arts Council programs, and provided funding towards the Pinedale Stage Stop of the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR) to mention some of the big events sponsored by Oil & Gas company donations.
In all this lobbying, no one has asked you out-of-county folks whether or not you want to pay this room tax when you come to visit us here in Pinedale. So we decided to do an informal poll to ask your opinion. Here's your opportunity to tell the voters of our county whether or not YOU want to pay this 3% additional tax on your rooms when you come to visit us here. Please send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and answer these three questions:
1. If you came to Pinedale, or Sublette County, in the last 4 years to attend a local event, did you come because you saw or heard out-of-area radio, print media, web or TV advertising about the event that you knew was funded by the Lodging Tax? (Seeing it here on Pinedale Online doesn't count, we don't get funding from the tax to support this website.)
2. If you came to the county to attend an event, did you find an affordable and close place to stay, or did you get turned away due to "No Vacancy"?
3. Do you want to continue to pay an additional 3% tax on your overnight room rate for the next 4 years to subsidize advertising about what is going on in our county?
You are the ones who will be paying this tax while you are here, not us, so please let us know your thoughts on it. (Comments may be posted later.)