Roberts’ bill to fund workforce housing, infrastructure passes Colorado House |

Roberts’ bill to fund workforce housing, infrastructure passes Colorado House

The bill would give local jurisdictions more control over use of lodging tax revenue

Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon, has represented the state's 26th District, which includes all of Routt and Eagle counties, since 2017.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A new bill designed to address the shortage of workforce housing in communities like Eagle County passed through the Colorado House of Representatives this week.

The bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon, would allow local counties and marketing districts to use lodging tax revenue for workforce housing as well as more affordable childcare and infrastructure improvements, with voter permission.

“This is a tool that mountain communities have long asked for — the ability to use the revenue brought in by tourists to support the workers and communities that serve those tourists — but have been prevented from doing so by state law,” Roberts said in a recent press release. “This year, we will update that law to allow local communities to decide for themselves how to utilize lodging tax dollars. In times like these, it just makes sense to let communities decide how to use the revenue brought in by tourists and to ensure we are supporting the workforce that serves their region’s visitors.”

If passed through the Senate and signed into law, the bill would strike the section of state statute stipulating that the state’s marketing and promotion tax levied on rooms or accommodations, also known as the “lodging tax,” be used for “activities related to workforce recruitment, management and development.”

It would replace this limited use allowance with new text that the tax can be used for “housing and childcare for the tourism-related workforce, including seasonal workers, and for other workers in the community.” The piece of statute that also allows tax dollars to be used for “facilitating and enhancing visitor experiences” will remain in place, according to the legislation.

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With these amendments, funds from the lodging tax can go towards not just enhancing “visitor experiences,” but more importantly towards enhancing “the overall community-wide experience,” the press release states.

The bill would give counties and local marketing districts another chance to ask voters to impose a lodging tax if they do not have one already or change an existing lodging tax and direct the revenue to community needs like housing. At least 10% of tax revenue would remain dedicated to tourism marketing and promotion, according to the bill.

The push to allow these additional uses for the tax, which is capped by state law at 2%, is representative of a moment in which tourism-driven communities like Eagle County are straining under the weight of staffing shortages as they collide with heightened costs of living and an increase in visitors. The proposed change comes in response to calls for support from county government officials and industry leaders across the state.

“The lack of housing for employees in Colorado’s rural, mountain, and resort communities has reached a crisis level and it is directly impacting the provision of basic services as well as the ability to adequately staff and operate businesses,” said Margaret Bowes, executive director of Colorado Association of Ski Towns, in the release.

The bill, House Bill 22-1117, passed through the Colorado House by a vote of 46 to 18 this week.

Roberts co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Marc Catlin, a Republican from Montrose. It is now headed to the Senate where it will be carried by Sen. Kerry Donvan, D-Vail, and Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose.

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