Winter Park voters re-authorize 1 percent lodging tax |

Winter Park voters re-authorize 1 percent lodging tax

Katie Looby
Sky-Hi Daily News

Winter Park voters passed a 1 percent sales and lodging tax in a 50-18 vote Tuesday.

For Winter Park Marketing Director Mary F. Woolwine, it was an easy decision to vote yes.

“It’s really important to maintain the momentum of the promotion and advertising of the Winter Park and Fraser area with this tax,” she said.

The levy, originally adopted in 1991, will continue to fund marketing and capital improvement projects. This is the fourth time the community has re-authorized the sales tax.

The tax generated $681,000 in 2007 and is projected to bring in $685,000 this year.

“It’s created a lot of community projects, capital projects, and it provides the bulk of the money for the Chamber’s marketing council to promote the area,” said Mayor Nick Teverbaugh. “People recognize that it has provided a lot of benefit to the community … It’s appropriate that the guests help pay for it.”

But not everyone agrees. Todd J. Waldron, owner of Timberhouse Ski Lodge, voted against it.

“I think the sales tax is already high enough,” he said. “I don’t know what they do with that 1 percent. … They don’t do anything for Old Town residents.”

If the tax levy were reduced, his ski lodge guests would be charged less, he said.

“It all adds up,” Waldron said. “I think the Chamber needs to stand on its own.”

The tax will now be in effect until at least July 1, 2013. Although it first passed in 1991, it did not start until 1992. Its renewal is put to voters every four years.

The extra year gives the town time to plan in case voters decide at some point not to re-authorize the tax, said Town Clerk Patti Garcia.

“It’s been a huge benefit to the community,” she said.

Teverbaugh said the majority of the town has supported the levy from its outset.

“It has not been a real close vote,” he said. “After people saw what we were able to do with the money, they were even more in favor of continuing it.”

Statutory communities aren’t able to levy such extra taxes.

“We’re the only (town) in the county that could have voted to add another penny of sales tax because we our governed by a home rules charter,” Teverbaugh said.

Town Council terms

Council members Jim Myers, Chris Seemann, Mike Periolat and Rusty Thompson will retain their seats because no one challenged them in this election. Three of the their terms are for four years, and one is for two years. They will decide who will fill which terms on Tuesday, April 15.

They also choose the mayor and mayor pro-tem for two-year terms from among the seven council members.

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