Lodging tax on municipal election ballot

A lodging tax will be among the questions before City of Yuma voters when they receive their ballots in the mail.
April 7 is the official City of Yuma Municipal Election date, which also includes a race for the Yuma City Council. However, the city has gone to a mail-in ballot this year.
They were scheduled to be mailed out earlier this week, so voters should be receiving them soon. The ballots need to be returned to City Hall by 7 p.m. on April 7. As of earlier this week, the city planned on having drop-off boxes.

However, considering the current circumstances with COVID-19, voters are recommended to mail them back.
If there are changes, and, for instance, City Hall is closed sometime in the near future, there will be new information made available by the city.
Incumbent Ron Swehla is the only candidate for mayor, but there are five candidates for four council seats — incumbents Dan Baucke and Bryson Chrismer, and challengers Tim McClung, Jo Griggs and Daniel Ebersole.
Look for more on each of the candidates in next week’s edition.
This week we will take a closer look at the lodging tax question. It calls for a 5-percent levy of a lodging tax for hotel rooms, motel rooms, lodging houses, bed and breakfasts, recreational vehicle pad “or other similar accomodation.”
The ballot question also asks if the City of Yuma taxes can be increased by $200,000 annually in the first fiscal year, and by whatever additional amounts are raised in each following year. The city likely is not going to come near that $200,000 figure but it is set purposely high for TABOR reasons.
The new revenue would go into the General Fund, through which services such as police, fire protection, recreation, streets, parks, the swimming pool, the library and more are funded.
Several communities have a lodging tax, including Wray, Holyoke and Burlington.
Wray has had a 5-percent lodging tax since 2010. City of Wray staff told the Pioneer the revenue has increased since 2010, indicating it has not deterred people from spending the night in Wray. The revenue has averaged right around $50,000 per year over the past five years.
Burlington has had a 4-percent lodging tax for many years. City staff told the Pioneer it raised $248,000 in 2019, but it was noted Burlington is located along Interstate 70, and so it naturally gets more overnight visitors, particularly when the interstate is closed due to weather.
Holyoke has a 2.5-percent lodging tax, with the revenue earmarked for the city’s recreation department. It has been in effect for the past three fiscal years. The City of Holyoke collected $31,274 in 2017, $24,362 in 2018 and $26,447 in 2019, again indicating it has not deterred people from spending the night in Holyoke. It’s lodging tax is supposed to sunset in 2021, so voters will have to decided at that time whether or not to continue it.
Again, look for more on the council candidates in next week’s edition.