Pinedale lodging tax update
by Jeff Goltz, Town of Pinedale Travel and Tourism Commission
December 15, 2010
Pinedale will soon receive its first lodging tax distribution from the Wyoming Department of Revenue, and the Travel and Tourism Commission wanted to update residents on our progress and plans going forward.
As you may recall, Pinedale voters approved a 3% lodging tax "for the wider promotion and marketing of the Town of Pinedale in order to attract local travelers and tourism" in May. The tax passed thanks to the efforts of the Pinedale Lodging Tax Alliance, Sublette County Chamber of Commerce, and many others.
From June through September, the Town laid the legal groundwork to collect and use the tax. On June 14, the council passed the ordinance imposing the tax. On June 28, it passed the ordinance creating our Commission. On September 13, it appointed original Commission members Jeff Goltz, Terrie Swift, Jordan Vana, Wendy Row and Lana Koppenhafer.
For those who don’t know, here’s how the tax works: Guests staying at lodging facilities within Town limits for fewer than 30 continuous days pay a tax equal to 3% of the cost of their stay. The Wyoming Department of Revenue collects the tax each month and distributes the majority of it back to the Town within approximately 60 days (the Department keeps 2% of the amount collected during the first year of the tax to cover administrative costs, and 1% in subsequent years).
The Town accounts for the tax revenue and can use up to 10% for general expenses. Our Commission spends the remaining revenue "for local travel and tourism promotion" based on an annual budget approved by the Town council. By law, we can only spend the tax revenue on "promotional materials, television and radio advertising, printed advertising, promotion of tours and other specific tourism related objectives and administration."
Our Commission will also spend the funds remaining from the previous county-wide lodging tax. We are currently working to determine the amount of those funds and what, if any, restrictions there will be on their expenditure.
Our Commission has met 4 times since members were appointed: September 23, October 4, October 19 and November 22. Copies of the minutes of these meetings are available at Town Hall.
Among other things, the Commission has discussed its composition at length, particularly the fact that two original members—Wendy Row and Lana Koppenhafer—represented the Hampton Inn. We understand concerns about our composition and intend to do everything we can to ensure that Commission members fairly represent Pinedale’s wonderfully diverse travel and tourism industry. (As an aside, Commission members do not represent various segments of Pinedale’s travel and tourism industries as originally suggested by the Lodging Tax Alliance and others (i.e., one member from the lodging community, one member from the Chamber of Commerce, one member from the nonprofit community, etc.). Instead, pursuant to the Travel and Tourism Commission Ordinance, the Commission’s four "standard" members must "represent as nearly as possible the local travel and tourism industry within the Town" and be either "residents of the Town or actively engaged in business within the Town either as an employee or owner." The Mayor is the fifth member of the Commission.)
Since our first meeting, Terrie Swift and Wendy Row have resigned their seats on the Commission. Serese Kudar has agreed to represent the Chamber of Commerce on the Commission and the Mayor will appoint a new fifth member with the council’s approval. Anyone interested in serving on the Commission should submit a letter of interest and resume to Patty Racich at Town Hall as soon as possible.
Going forward, our Commission intends to conduct its business transparently, accountably, accessibly and effectively. To these ends, we will:
• Continue meeting on the third Tuesday of every month at Town Hall (we will advertise our meetings—including agendas and financial reports as appropriate—in the Pinedale Roundup, on Pinedale Online and outside Town Hall, and welcome anyone to attend);
• Consider and, whenever possible, act on the public’s suggestions, including suggestions from the recent Chamber of Commerce member survey, which we sincerely appreciated hearing about at our last meeting; and
• Develop a strategic plan, marketing plan and annual budget with help from Lynn Birleffi, Administrator of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition, to ensure that our efforts bring more visitors to Pinedale and have a positive, measurable impact for local businesses’ bottom lines (watch for an announcement regarding our upcoming meeting with Lynn soon).
Pinedale’s lodging tax will remain in place until November 2012, when voters will have the chance to retain or eliminate it going forward. Between now and then, our Commission plans to spend Pinedale’s lodging tax dollars transparently, accountably, accessibly and effectively to share our special community with new visitors. We hope you will follow our efforts and always welcome your thoughts.
Jeff Goltz, Chair
Pinedale Travel and Tourism Commission