Lodging Tax Up For Renewal
Albany County will once again see a proposal for a lodging tax on their ballots this year. The longing tax pops up on the ballot every four years and has been in effect in Albany County since 1986. The last time the tax was an the ballot, approximately 86% of voters elected to keep the tax.
Fred Ockers, Executive Director of the Albany County Tourism Board, says this is a unique tax in that it is paid primarily by visitors. Those living in the county will only pay the tax if they stay in a short-term lodging.
“It’s an interesting tax in that it’s a tax that is charged that people, generally speaking as a high percentage rule, do not pay but benefit from,” says Ockers.
If renewed, the tax would continue charging four percent on short-term lodging stays in the county. This means anyone staying at a hotel, motel, lodge or other short term dwelling for 30 days or less would see the additional tax on their bill, similar to an optional sales tax. Those persons staying for longer than 30 days are exempt from the tax. It includes areas like KOA campground as well.
Ockers says the tax helps to pay for bringing people from all around the world into the county. This ultimately results in more money being spent in town. Ockers points out that a study commissioned by the Wyoming Office of Tourism last April found that 14.3% of the sales taxes that are redistributed to Albany County are spent by visitors. With that large a percentage of funds just from sales tax coming into the county, it is clear a good portion of funds come from nonresidents of Albany County.
Ockers adds that tourism is the second largest economic driver in the state of Wyoming. With the Albany County Tourism Board being the only entity in the county that promotes the county as a whole and not specific aspects of it, the board is a huge part of bringing in outside visitors.
Ockers says that the county has seen more and more people coming in each year. The amount of money brought in by the tax is usually around $700,000 a year with an increase each year for the last eight years.
If passed, Ockers says funds will go toward promoting the county internationally as well as domestically.
For more information on the Albany County Tourism Board, click here.