Silt tries to pass lodging tax again
SILT – If at first you don’t succeed in passing a lodging tax … try, try again.At least that’s what the town of Silt is planning to do in the upcoming municipal election on April 4.Silt Town Board members on Monday night unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to put the tax question on the ballot.Voters in 2004 turned down the same proposed tax with 496 voting “no” and 349 in favor – a 59 to 41 percent margin.Trustee Dave Moore, who initiated the ballot question, says he is confident the tax will pass this time around with the endorsement of the Silt Area Chamber of Commerce and more information provided to Silt voters.”I think it’s going to fly this time,” Moore said. “The idea now is overwhelmingly popular. And the people will be more educated because the chamber is going to circulate information to inform people.”In 2004, Moore blamed the failure of the tax measure partly on the wording of the ballot question, which did not specify that the money generated would be used for “beautification” projects throughout town. The question simply stated the money would go into the general fund.Board members Monday night haggled on what the tax increase should be. In the original ballot question, it would have added an additional $2.50 per night on the cost of lodging. Trustees opted for a $3.50 increase this time.”Even $3.50 is very small,” Moore said. “Some towns have a $10 or $11 lodging fee.”One major opponent of the lodging tax was Zofia Bryjak, owner of the Red River Inn on Main Street – Silt’s only motel.Bryjak maintained at the time that the tax increase would drive potential customers away.Proponents of the tax pointed out that it would only be paid by tourists or those staying for a short-time – not by the permanent residents of Silt.Bryjak still says that $3.50 is too much for her customers – which pay weekly rates to stay at the motel.”We’ll see how it looks, but $3.50 is too much,” Bryjak said. “We have construction crews, weekly customers, not daily. We don’t have tourists and visitors.”Glenwood Springs has had a lodging tax in place for years and New Castle approved one in 2003. Voters in the city of Rifle also turned down a proposed lodging tax in 2004.The tax question will come before the town again for second reading at the next regular town board meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, at which time public comments will be taken.
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