Breckenridge eyes lodging tax increase
July 15, 2010
BRECKENRIDGE – Town officials are considering a lodging tax increase for the November ballot to create a more sustainable source for marketing revenue.The economic recession makes the timing tough, and town council members have said they don’t want to harm Summit School District’s chances of passing a much-needed property tax increase.But the Town of Breckenridge each year pulls more money from other sources to make its marketing fund competitive. This year, council pulled $685,000 from the town’s excise fund to finance 41 percent of its marketing spending.”Our goal is a funding source that doesn’t eat into the town’s savings year after year,” town Councilman Mike Dudick said at a council work session Tuesday.He presented a detailed argument for a 1 percent increase (to 3.4 percent) of the town’s accommodations tax to town officials and representatives of the lodging community. This could provide an extra $679,000 for marketing in 2011.People from local hotels said they were concerned with shouldering the burden of a tax increase to benefit the entire community.Other options for the revenue increase include an amusement tax (on lift tickets, bar cover charges, theaters and more) or a sales tax increase. It was pointed out that visitors would expect lift-ticket prices to be non-negotiable, but with lodging people expect some wiggle room.However, town officials expect local voters will be more likely to approve a tax that won’t be taking money directly out of their pockets.Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said November isn’t the time to try for an amusement tax, in part because he wants to get Breckenridge Ski Resort behind it by earmarking part of the money perhaps toward transportation.Bruce Horii, sales and marketing director with Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, said that while people in the local lodging industry generally agree the town needs a sustainable marketing fund, more dialogue is needed.”There has to be some win-win and a little compromise versus what’s on the table currently,” he said, adding that further meetings are to occur this week.The town has until Aug. 10 for council to make its first vote toward putting any tax increase on the Nov. 2 ballot. An informal poll on Tuesday indicated lodging entities are willing to work toward a solution.”I feel optimistic about getting it on the ballot,” town Councilman Mike Dudick said Wednesday, adding that the final product may not be a 1 percent lodging tax increase. “Something will be there.”The previous town council considered a similar tax increase for the April 2010 ballot, but council members felt there wasn’t enough public awareness of the need.The marketing fund has been supplemented for several years, in part because the town’s business licensing tax was not created to adjust for inflation.SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.