JACKSON, Wyo. — Voters in Teton County will decide this fall whether to approve a 2 percent lodging tax.
The Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of Commissioners decided Wednesday morning to put the issue on the November ballot.
The decision came a day after voters in the county decided to keep the sales tax rate at 6 percent. They voted to back $34 million in sales tax funding for capital projects, approving 10 of 11 proposals on the ballot.
The county had a lodging tax for several years, but it was defeated in 1994. The tax was turned down again in subsequent elections.
State law allows Wyoming cities, towns and counties to levy a tax of up to 4 percent on hotel rooms for guests staying fewer than 30 days.
Jackson officials estimate that the lodging tax would raise about $3.5 million a year. Of that, about $2.1 million would have to be spent on promotions. Another $1 million would go for visitor services. The remaining $350,000 would go to the town and county general funds.
Officials unanimously supported the prospect of imposing the lodging tax.
Commissioner Paul Vogelheim said some individual properties already impose resort fees on visitors. He said a lodging tax would be a "more fair approach of supporting the visitor services."
A lodging tax would be assessed mostly on visitors who stay in short-term rentals.
Voters rejected the 2 percent lodging tax in 1994, and again in 1996 and 1998. State law at the time would have required 90 percent of the revenues go to tourism promotion, with the rest going to local governments to be spent on offsetting the impact of visitors.
Local resident Bill Phelps told officials he would vote against the measure this time.
"Large scale promotion and advertising works well for theme parks," Phelps said. "The current version of the lodging tax treats Jackson Hole like a theme park. It focuses on the quantity of tourists instead of the quality of their experience."
Jim Waldrop, general manager of the Wort Hotel, said the lodging industry supports the tax.
"We believe the citizens of this county are ready and poised to support local businesses with a slight assessment on visitors," Waldrop said.