Vote approaches for lodging tax
October 24, 2018
As the General Election approaches, candidates are looking to promote themselves as much as possible in the final weeks leading to Nov. 6.
Aside from candidates for Green River City Council and Sweetwater County Commissioner, voters will also have a choice to make regarding if the county should continue the optional lodging tax and if it should increase to 4 percent.
Jenissa Meredith, executive director of Sweetwater County travel and Tourism, spoke to members of the Green River Chamber of Commerce last week to educate residents about what the tax is and what it supports. The tax itself is something county residents would rarely pay, as it’s only levied on lodging within the county.
Meredith said the tax started at 2 percent at its inception in 1991 and remained at that level until 2014, when it increased to 3 percent. While the board seeks an increase to its maximum allowable level of 4 percent, the ballot question itself asks voters if the tax should be continued. Should the vote fail, the tax won’t simply remain at 3 percent, it will end entirely.
Meredith said the travel and tourism board, a group of representatives appointed by governing bodies in the county, plan to use the additional revenue from the proposed 4 percent to provide guided tours of local attractions, additional recruitment of sporting events and conventions and more marketing efforts directed at domestic and international travelers. Meredith said marketing campaigns in the Salt Lake City and Denver television markets have resulted in a return of $63 per every single dollar spent on advertising.
The board, through its lodging tax, provides grants to local events to help with their marketing. More than 40 events in Sweetwater County benefit from the tax, including International Day in Rock Springs, Flaming Gorge Days and the Flaming Gorge Classic basketball tournament in Green River. The local chambers of commerce also benefit, as the travel and tourism board provides yearly grants to the chambers to operate as visitors centers. The board also provides funding to the Sweetwater County Events Complex.