Leonard P. Herzog: No pot of gold
February 20, 2013
I have been following some of the discussion on the accommodations tax spending options. It is interesting to see some of the creative ways that we can imagine spending the money.
As part of the discussion I would like to add that we are taxing our guests and we, not them, have been the primary beneficiaries of the revenue. Which of the proposals primarily benefits those paying the money? What would the guests vote on — more reasonable accommodations, or a trail or golf course that most of them probably will never see? Have we identified any target destination-tourist segment for a proposal?
We all want adequate government services to meet the needs of the community. Lodging admittedly places a burden on those services and so the properties pay property taxes and the guests pay local, county and state sales taxes, resort fees, accommodations taxes as well as the Local Marketing District tax. I was recently quoted a rate of $219 for a room on the mountain. But after taxes that room came to $300.19. That is more than $80 in taxes and fees — or more than 35 percent additional room cost, for one night. That should be repugnant to any reasonable person. Yet we as hosts are willing to ignore the sensibilities of our guests while competing for their money to pay for our pet projects.
I am glad that forthcoming final proposals may have to go to a public vote. I would really like to see how the guests paying the tax would vote. I would vote that you don't tax people and then try to figure out how to spend the money that you collect. If we really needed their money, we wouldn't be trying to figure out how to spend it, it would be more than obvious where the money was needed.
It is not a "pot of gold," as one who had been vying for a piece of the loot had said. It is a golden egg coming from a torturous goose.
Leonard P. Herzog