The Saratoga Sun -

Legislators meet with CCCVC on tourism bill

Proposed bill would create stable funding for Wyoming Office of Tourism

 

January 29, 2020



The Carbon County Visitor Council’s (CCCVC) monthly meeting was held at 10 a.m. on January 22 at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga.

The agenda, minutes and financials were quickly approved. Director Leslie Jefferson went over her report and then applicants for grants gave their presentations.

After the presentations, the CCCVC adjourned at noon to go to the Hotel Wolf to meet with legislators on the subject of tourism and the proposal of a new statewide lodging tax.

Leading the discussion was C.J. Box, vice chairman of the Wyoming Office of Tourism.

Donald Burkhart Jr., House District 15, and Jerry Paxton, House District 47, were in attendance. Sue Jones, County Commissioner and liaison to CCCVC; Stacy Crimmins, Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO; Tiffany Jones, marketing director for the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort; Roz Herring, owner of Good Things and most CCVC board members rounded up those attending the meeting.

Box thanked all for coming and said he wanted to go over the lodging tax bill that had come out of the Joint Appropriations Committee last week. The proposed bill recommends a five percent lodging tax.

Box said it was different from what had been presented before and is under the title “Wyoming Tourism Account Funding”.

The bill would impose a five percent statewide lodging tax that would have three percent dedicated to Wyoming Tourism. Two percent would go to the local area and replace the current two percent local option lodging tax. An additional two percent option lodging tax can be renewed every four years, but would be the vote of governing local governments instead of the electorate.

Some counties and municipalities have this additional lodging tax in place already to the two percent that funds tourism locally. Carbon County has only the two percent currently.

State parks overnight camping would be subject to the tax except annual resident camping passes, state fair campgrounds and county fair campgrounds.

Eighty percent of the three percent that is dedicated to tourism would be deposited into the newly created tourism account and would be spent on Wyoming Office of Tourism subject to legislative approval before spending every year.

The remaining 20 percent would be deposited into a newly created reserve account, subject to legislative approval before spending each year.

Local option lodging tax permissible expenditures are amended to include digital content, social media, staging events, educational materials and other tourism related objectives including those identified to facilitate tourism or enhance the visitor experience.

The bill, if passed, will go into effect January 1, 2021.

The three percent going to the Wyoming Office of Tourism would mean that the office would not rely on monies coming from the general fund.

Tourism is the number industry in the state, yet the Wyoming Office of Tourism has been watching its budget get cut year after year while states around it continue to increase their budget.

Box said he hoped the legislators present would help the bill get passed. He said that he knew that when people hear the word tax, they immediately were resistant. Box stressed tourism was important to the state and it was time to help the Wyoming Tourism Office attain stability in its funding.

Box said it was a plus that the tax would mean monies that are currently supporting the Wyoming Office of Tourism would stay in the general fund. He also pointed out the tourism budget would improve the job the tourism office did in bring visitors to the state.

Box pointed out, that could be a boon to many industries throughout the state.

 

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