Percent Debate and Fund Management – June 8, 2022 – Estes Park Trail-Gazette
By Bill Brown
Visit Estes Park hosted the fourth meeting of the Accommodation Tax Exploration Task Force on Wednesday, June 8. The objective of the task force is to analyze the possibility of adding an increase in the accommodation tax to help solve the housing and childcare problems of the workforce. Unlike a sales tax increase, a lodging tax would only apply to overnight visitors to the Estes Valley and not to local residents.
The working group reviewed documents distributed prior to the meeting, including an analysis of the precipitous decline in building permits in the Estes Valley since 2006, as well as an analysis of the accommodation tax increases enacted by other Colorado communities over the past 5 years.
Task Force member Greg Rosener presented an analysis based on Stifel’s earlier presentation on how the increased accommodation tax could be supported and leveraged, as well as research on the costs of current construction for different types of housing units. His analysis illustrated the number of different types of housing units that could be built under different levels of accommodation tax increases. It also showed how these funds could be further leveraged to fund more housing units.
In a strategic move to stimulate lively debate, task force member David Batey introduced a motion to raise the lodging tax from 2% to 8%. A lively discussion ensued. As he suspected, some members of the band thought that was too big of an increase. In another strategic move, he withdrew his motion and moved a substitute motion to raise the lodging tax from 2% to 5.5%, which would amount to a 3.5% increase. This motion passed and discussion continued on the next issue of who should manage the funds created by the increased accommodation tax.
Although no formal vote on the issue of fund management was taken, John Cullen and group members talked about a plan in which the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) would manage the disbursement of funds. funds, subject to some sort of as yet undefined community contribution and oversight. Further discussions on this issue will continue next week. Members also suggested that the City of Estes Park, Estes Park Housing Authority and Larimer County could eventually manage the funds, although each may have staffing issues. Visit Estes Park noted that they would prefer another organization with more experience in the areas of workforce housing and child care to handle the distribution of funds, but they are prepared to be the channel and legal entity that channels the funds to the most suitable organization. .
Once the management of funds and associated governance issues are resolved, the group will turn to another question next week: what level of programmatic detail is needed to justify the proposed increase to voters?
Recordings of the working group meetings are available on the Visit Estes Park website. The public can also follow the matches live every Wednesday between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. by registering in advance.
Community members can share their thoughts with the working group. Submit written comments to Rachel Ward Oppermann with Visit Estes Park at [email protected] or call 970-586-0500 to arrange a one-on-one interview to provide feedback to the Task Force on this project.