BY FREDA MIKLIN
Lodgers’ taxes are a popular way for local governments to increase revenue because, much like car rental taxes, they are mostly paid by visitors, a/k/a people who don’t vote in local elections. In Colorado, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires that all tax increases, including new taxes, must be approved by a vote of the people.
On November 8, voters in the City of Littleton approved a new five percent Lodgers Tax, effective January 1, 2023, on short-term (less than 28 consecutive days) stays in hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts.
The $975,000 in annual revenue from the new tax must be used to “promote and support arts and culture, tourism, and visitor promotion within the City of Littleton….including the support of Bemis Library, the Littleton Museum, the Town Hall Arts Center, Hudson Gardens, and other local non-profit organizations that advance, support, and enhance arts and culture within the city.”
Littleton voters also approved an increase of $200,000 in property taxes within the boundaries of the Littleton Downtown Development Authority.
Asked to approve a 3.5% Lodgers’ Tax in the City of Centennial to be spent on, “Projects and services addressing visitor impacts in the area of public safety and any other lawful municipal purpose.” By a margin of 56% to 44%, city voters said no.
The question of whether to impose a Lodgers’ Tax, as well as the rate and the use of the funds it would generate, was discussed at great length by the Centennial City Council, including Mayor Stephanie Piko, before this question was brought to the voters.
When the resolution to present this question in its final form was passed on September 6, after an amendment to eliminate the language “and any other lawful municipal purpose” failed, the vote was six to three. Supporting the new tax and the final language were Centennial City Council Members Candace Moon, Tammy Maurer, Christine Sweetland, Marlo Alston, Mike Sutherland and Rick Holt. Mayor Stephanie Piko (in Centennial, the mayor is a regular voting member of the city council), along with City Council Members Don Sheehan and Robyn Carnes voted against putting the measure on the ballot.