Eagle voters buck the election’s anti-tax trend
EAGLE, Colorado – In a decidedly anti-tax election year, Eagle voters were alone in approving a new tax item during last week’s voting.
Of course, it helped that the people who will be paying the tax aren’t the people who approved it.
With 1,079 in favor and 630 opposed, Eagle voters passed a new $2 per room, per night lodging occupation tax that will fund marketing efforts in the community.
The tax increases the town’s lodging occupation tax from $2 per room, per night to $4 per room, per night. The original $2 fee was approved in the 1990s to fund the community’s open space program. The new $2 fee will go toward community marketing.
“Definitely the Eagle Chamber of Commerce is excited and the town of Eagle is excited about this issue being passed. It does nothing but benefit the town of Eagle,” Chamber President Mike Stevens said. “Hopefully, now we can market all the great amenities we have here in Eagle.
“I have never walked into a hotel and walked out again over a $2 fee.”
In promoting the ballot issue, the Eagle Chamber of Commerce highlighted that the proposal was “a tax you don’t pay.” Support for the issue was split in the local lodging community, with some hotel operators maintaining the nominal fee would bring in more business and others protesting it was unfair to ask hotels to bear the cost of markting efforts.
Lonnie Leto, general manager of the AmericInn Lodge and Suites of Eagle, was a strong supporter of the $2 bed tax. He said that he has never had a guest question the existing $2 fee.
“I wouldn’t support this if I didn’t believe, 100 percent, that it will bring me more business,” Leto said.
“I would have been shocked if the measure hadn’t passed,” said Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland, saying that residents were not asked to tax themselves but, rather, to charge future visitors to pay for marketing the community.
“I would have thought that it would pass by an even larger margin,” Woodland said.
He said the new $2 fee will generate an estimated $130,000 annually, and the question now is how to best spend that money to bring more people to town.
Now that the measure has passed, the town of Eagle has promised to form a committee to oversee how the money raised through the marketing fee is spent. That committee will include town representatives, general business representatives and representatives from local lodges.