Tax increases head to Hayden voters | SteamboatToday.com

Tax increases head to Hayden voters

Town to decide whether to charge more for lodging, car rentals

Blythe Terrell

— Hayden residents will vote on two proposed taxes in November.

The Hayden Town Council decided at its meeting Thursday to take accommodations and car-rental taxes to voters. Council members also approved a new agreement on the Lake Village subdivision to get the final infrastructure repair work finished.

Fourteen people attended the meeting to speak about the proposed car-rental tax and Lake Village. No one commented on the accommodations tax.

People already complain about the cost of car rentals, said Aaron Wiltfong, an independent agent for Budget.

“What I’m seeing with any kind of taxes or any kind of increase in fees is, it’s going to be a further deterrent for people to patronize my business and rent a car,” he said.

Jim Reiser, who runs the Hertz Rent-a-Car at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, spoke against adding a car-rental tax. He said the car-rental agencies at YVRA in Hayden have seen $845,000 less in revenue this year than last, a 27 percent decrease.

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“We feel kind of like we’re getting piled on,” Reiser said.

He also said he thinks the tax would be unfairly levied on a sole business at the airport. If voters approve the tax, it would add 3.5 percent to the sales tax on rental cars. That would bring the total sales tax to 11.4 percent. The increase on accommodations would be the same.

Reiser and others in the rental industry said the tax would increase already high costs for customers.

“It costs more to fly into the Yampa Valley than it does Denver,” he said. “It costs more money to rent a car than it does Denver.”

The accommodations tax would raise only $1,200 a year unless more lodging comes to Hayden. The car-rental tax would raise nearly $150,000. Town Manager Russ Martin said the tax would be comparable to those of other towns.

“I don’t think we’re out of the ordinary,” Martin said. “I don’t think we are taking too much of the pie.”

Car-rental representatives said the tax would have a negative impact on their businesses. Resident Jim Lewis said he’d heard from Hayden residents who were concerned that the tax revenue wasn’t allocated for a specific purpose. If voters approve the taxes, the income will be focused on tourism but could go wherever the council wants to put it.

The council unanimously approved sending both taxes to voters.

The panel also approved an agreement with Oregon-based Robinson Construction and Vectra Bank to finish infrastructure repairs at Lake Village. The subdivision in southern Hayden still won’t be livable, however, unless developers’ bankruptcy and liens filed on the property are resolved.

Several lot owners expressed concerns about the town’s decision to move forward with repairs, afraid they were letting Robinson off the hook.

“You’re trying to do your job to move this forward, but when you move it forward, we still can’t build or do anything on those lots,” Kathleen Murphy said.

Town Council members said they understood those concerns but needed to move forward to make sure the infrastructure was done.

Hayden water loss 27 percent for July

The town of Hayden’s water loss was 27 percent for July, Town Manager Russ Martin said Thursday. The loss occurs when the town produces more water than people appear to be using.

The town has struggled to figure out what’s causing the losses and whether they’re real. Martin has suggested that it’s a problem of inaccurate measurements of the water leaving the plant. July is a heavy usage month, Martin told the Hayden Town Council.

“We produced about 15 million gallons last month,” he said. “The month before that, we produced seven (million), and last year at this month we produced 20 (million).”

Hayden is working with Mountain Valley Bank on ways to cover the costs of the enterprise fund, which includes water and sewer income and costs. The town expects a $450,000 shortfall in the fund, Martin said. The town also might consider increasing its base water rates, he said.

Hayden seeks bids for street work

The town of Hayden plans to start the bidding process next week for reconstruction of Poplar Street. The prebid meeting will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave. Bidding opens at 2 p.m. Aug. 18.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to award at the next board meeting on the 20th with construction starting as soon as that week,” Town Manager Russ Martin said.

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