Voters will decide whether Natrona County should continue to impose a local lodging tax on visitors

The Natrona County Travel & Tourism Concil, also known as Visit Casper, is funded by the local lodging tax that is imposed on people staying at places like hotels and campgrounds in the county. (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — When voters in Natrona County go to vote in the general election this fall, they will be asked to consider whether to renew the local lodging tax.

The lodging tax is paid by visitors staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds and similar establishments. Unless Natrona County residents are staying at these establishments, they do not pay the local lodging tax. School groups and other exempt entities are not required to pay the accommodation tax.

The local lodging tax issue will be a little different on the ballot this fall than in years past due to Wyoming‘s new statewide lodging tax. Wyoming’s new statewide 5% lodging tax structure took effect July 1, 2021, after Governor Mark Gordon signed the lodging tax legislation in March 2020.

Before the statewide lodging tax went into effect, local governments could impose local lodging taxes of up to 4%. Under the new law, local lodging taxes are capped at 2%. However, 2% of the 5% statewide lodging tax is distributed to counties in proportion to the statewide lodging taxes collected in that county.

Therefore, the question before Natrona County voters this fall will be whether to approve the local 2% lodging tax. The question will appear on Natrona County ballots as follows:

2% lodging tax

This tax is paid by visitors staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds and similar establishments that provide temporary accommodation or space for transient guests. Unless staying at these establishments, residents of Natrona County do not pay this tax. School groups and other exempt entities do not pay this tax. Will the County Commissioners of Natrona County, State of Wyoming be allowed to maintain this lodging tax?

At Natrona, the lodging tax is used to support the Natrona County Travel & Tourism Council, which also operates as Visit Casper. This entity works to promote travel and tourism in the Casper area. The Natrona County Travel and Tourism Board approved a new budget for fiscal year 2023 in July, which includes spending authority for up to $1,801,600, about $300,000 less than in its budget for the 2022 financial year.

Local lodging tax collections in Natrona County from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2021 were as follows, according to the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis:

  • FISCAL 2010: $943,285
  • Fiscal year 2011: $1,005,051
  • Fiscal year 2012: $1,204,887
  • Fiscal 2013: $1,288,626
  • Fiscal 2014: $1,349,272
  • Fiscal 2015: $1,693,494
  • Fiscal 2016: $1,650,893
  • Fiscal 2017: $1,492,867
  • FISCAL 2018: $1,642,983
  • FISCAL 2019: $1,818,142
  • FISCAL 2020: $1,818,691
  • Fiscal 2021: $1,332,451

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