Chaffee Commissioners Seek Public Input as They Consider Lodging Tax Reallocation Ballot Measure

The Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is considering various approaches to the management of the county’s existing lodging tax and invites public input for their upcoming meetings on August 9th and 16th where this topic will be discussed.

The BOCC is evaluating a possible ballot measure that would ask voters to consider expanding how these existing lodging tax monies are utilized within Chaffee County and its municipalities. The proposed measure under consideration will not raise the current lodging tax in Chaffee County.

Chaffee County is one of 29 Colorado counties that currently have a voter-approved county lodging tax. Chaffee County voters originally approved a 1.9% local lodging tax in 1988, authorized by Colorado Revised Statutes § 30-11-107.5 as first codified in 1987. This lodging excise tax is collected from all hotels, motels, guest ranches, campgrounds, and similar accommodations in all areas of the county, including Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Salida. Use of lodging excise tax revenues are currently limited only to “market and attract tourism to the County of Chaffee.” Chaffee County’s lodging tax generated $1.29 million in 2021, which funds the activities of the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.

New legislation was adopted by the Colorado General Assembly in spring 2022 that permits additional uses of local lodging taxes. The bipartisan House Bill 22-1117 “USE OF REVENUE FROM A LOCAL TAX ON LODGING” was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis in March. The new legislation expanded the statutorily-authorized of lodging taxes beyond advertising and marketing local tourism to also now include “housing and childcare for the tourism-related workforce, including seasonal workers, and for other workers in the community; and for facilitating and enhancing visitor experiences.” Although the state statute now permits these additional uses for lodging tax revenues, Chaffee County voters would first need to approve a local ballot measure adopting these uses before they would become effective here.

The BOCC meetings on August 9th (at 104 Crestone, Salida or https://zoom.us/j/109079543) and August 16th (at 715 E Main, Buena Vista or https://zoom.us/j/109079543) are not formal public hearings of a ballot measure proposal, rather preliminary discussion to help inform the BOCC’s position as they work on drafting proposed ballot language. Public comment can be submitted in advance via email to chaffeeadmin@chaffeecounty.org, through mail to 104 Crestone Ave, Salida, CO 81201, or can be shared at the BOCC meetings. Once ballot language is finalized, the BOCC will hold a public hearing to discuss ratifying the ballot language; these meeting agendas with estimated times will be published to https://www.chaffeecounty.org/.

Dan R