Commissioners approve ballot question for 2% lodging tax in Eagle County
The lodging tax will only include municipalities that do not already have a lodging tax, namely Gypsum and unincorporated areas
A ballot question concerning the levy of a 2% lodging tax on rental fees in Eagle County is one step closer to making it in front of voters this November. The Eagle County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday that certified the ballot question, which is now on track to be included in November’s general election.
The 2% tax would apply to “the rental fee, price or other consideration paid or charged for the leasing, rental, sale or furnishing of a room or accommodation for a short-term period,” a period of time that is defined as up to 30 days. The tax would apply to all short-term lodging, from hotel stays to Airbnb rentals.
In the past, income from such a lodging tax was restricted to use in advertising and marketing for the town, county or municipality that levied the tax. A new bill — HB22-1117, passed in the latest legislative session — has expanded the potential uses to include housing and child care for the local workforce.
Bryan Treu, the county attorney, explained that Eagle County did not feel the need to raise revenue for marketing purposes, as visitors were naturally drawn to the area. Now that the funds can go toward two of the biggest policy priorities in the county, the county is motivated to have visitors pay a premium on rentals to help support the local workforce.
“It presented an opportunity for us to maybe assist our workforce without having them bear that tax,” Treu said. “It certainly won’t solve our housing and child care issues, but having a dedicated revenue source paid by visitors, to support the workforce that supports those visitors, makes a lot of sense.”
The new tax will only impact municipalities that do not already have a lodging tax in place, namely the town of Gypsum and the unincorporated areas of Eagle County, including Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. Avon, Basalt, Eagle, Minturn, Red Cliff and Vail all have their own lodging taxes in place, which will supersede the county’s tax.
Only voters directly impacted by the new tax will have a chance to vote on the ballot question. If eventually, the town of Gypsum chooses to have its own lodging tax, the town’s tax will be adopted over the county’s.
If passed, 10% of the revenue from the tax will be used for advertising and marketing, as required by law, but 90% will go toward child care and affordable housing programs. Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said that the tax would help address a catch-22 that the county has been dealing with when it comes to funding these programs.
“We’ve always struggled to figure out a funding stream for child care and affordable housing that doesn’t involve adding a tax to people who were already struggling to pay for those items,” Chandler-Henry said. “This, I think, is such a clear nexus between the requirements of the workforce and the needs of the workforce, so it’s being funded by what’s causing the need for it.”
“Having out-of-state visitors pay for the impacts caused by a tourism-based economy makes sense,” Treu agreed.
More information about the tax will be shared with the public in the coming months, and voters in Gypsum and the unincorporated areas of Eagle County will have the opportunity to approve or reject the ballot initiative on Nov. 8.