Glenwood Springs council approves lodging tax language for November ballot

Ballot language for the 2.5% lodging tax was approved 6-1 by the Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday, with two upcoming worksessions scheduled for any minor changes.

Council Member Tony Hershey was the only vote against the ballot language.

Council decided to honor the 20-year sunset requirement that the ad hoc committee requested. This provision means the tax will expire in two decades unless renewed by the voters. It was included in the question, so that taxpayers can have an opportunity to review the program in the future, according to a news release from the City of Glenwood Springs.

Although Councilmembers ingrid Wussow and Shelley Kaup had concerns about allowing the 20-year sunset, they ultimately decided to respect the recommendation and work of the Glenwood Community Workforce Housing Coalition.

“I respect where the ad-hoc committee is coming from, and I respect their comments about keeping it to a 20-year sunset,” Kaup said. 

In a statement, Glenwood Community Workforce Housing Coalition requested the council to include the sunset provision as a way to provide future voters a say in whether to keep the tax in place.

“We urge you to move forward with the language that reflects our recommendation, including the 20-year sunset which provides accountability our voters deserve yet also creates a meaningful resource we can deploy and leverage,” the statement reads.

Hershey requested multiple changes to the language, but all of his requests died for lack of a second on council. Some requests included making sure council members cannot profit from the tax, and others requested that only Glenwood Springs residents and employees would benefit from the tax.

There was also concern about the language, stating taxes would be increased by $2.5 million, instead of the $1.5 million the council previously discussed. City Attorney Karl Hanlon assured council that the number was more of a ceiling than the amount the city intended to reach.

There will be two work sessions to work out any minor concerns and language before the final wording will be submitted. 

Ballot Language:

Shall the city of Glenwood Springs taxes be increased $2.5 million in the first full fiscal year and by whatever amounts are raised annually thereafter through the imposition and assessment of a two and one half percent (2.5%) excise tax to be paid by lodgers within Glenwood Springs and bringing the total excise tax paid to 5% on the purchase price paid or changed for the furnishings of any hotel room, motel room, lodging room, motor hotel room, guest house, short-term rental or other similar temporary accommodations of less than 30 consecutive days; and shall all revenues from such excise tax be deposited in a dedicated fund to: 

• Increase the supply of workforce housing for Glenwood Springs residents and employees of Glenwood Springs businesses including, but not limited to, purchasing real property, addressing infrastructure and redeveloping existing housing; workforce housing. 

• Provide resources for the city to form partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors, and other public entities, to develop workforce housing;

• Support programs to reduce the cost of renting or purchasing workforce housing, provide available housing, and maintain existing affordable housing within the city; 

And other direct expenses of the city to implement these programs excluding any administrative costs, such as tax to end in fiscal year 2042, to be collected and spent as a voter approved revenue change notwithstanding any revenue or expenditure limitations contained in Article X, Section 20 of the Constitution Packet and Page 130 such expenditures will be reported in the city’s independent audit.

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