Publisher, Estes Park Trail Gazette
"How lucky are we to wake up each morning with a view of the Rocky Mountains? It’s a place that more than 4 million people trek to each year, and 75% of those who come to Estes Park are here to see the range.
With that, tourism plays a big role in our community. We benefit from visitors spending their money in our town, but there’s so much more being left on the table. The team at Visit Estes Park, our local marketing district, is pushing to extend the lodging tax by 3.5% to go directly into housing and childcare for the tourism workforce.
With a lot of hard work, this measure will be on the ballot during the Nov. 8 election. If passed, we would see a 3.5% increase through this lodging tax extension, all generated by tourists, to be allotted to workforce housing and childcare. This tax will not be imposed on Estes Park residents — it is paid for by visitors to our quaint town, such as those paying to stay overnight in our local accommodations, and will directly benefit the community.
Visit Estes Park wants more for the community. On March 31, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bipartisan-passed bill into law that would allow lodging tax dollars to also be used for housing and childcare for those working in the tourism sector. It goes into effect on Aug. 10, and we need our local leaders to get on board.
This initiative is something that has been in the works for a while and has been carefully considered. A task force of representatives from lodging, tourism, real estate, family services, and other sectors met six times and debated the issue. At the conclusion of the task force, the group voted to support the lodging tax extension and recommended a 3.5% increase to go towards workforce housing and childcare. Then, after reviewing the task force recommendations, a significant amount of research, and much discussion, the Visit Estes Park Board of Directors recommended the 3.5% increase to the Town of Estes Park and Larimer County on Aug. 1, gaining their support.
If this tax extension goes into effect, it would align Estes Park’s lodging tax more closely with 13 other Colorado communities, of which their percentage averages 6%. For example, the City of Gunnison’s is 4% and City of Golden’s is 6%.
As the publisher of the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, our editorial team has been following this issue closely. I’ve been in the publishing industry for 35 years, and Publisher of the TG for almost 7 years. Keeping my community abreast of what’s going on around town and serving the community as its 4th estate is a passion of mine. I’m also the proud father of four and grandfather of two, and for more than 20 years I’ve coached high school football. I understand the importance of having reliable childcare as well as safe and secure housing, and with a town whose residents are so impacted by the tourism industry, it only makes sense for us to put a portion of funds towards workforce housing and childcare.
Estes Park residents will see this item on their ballot during the General Election on Nov 8. If you’re not yet registered to vote, there’s still time. Visit larimer.gov/clerk/elections to become a registered voter to make sure your voice is heard on this issue that will have such a positive impact on the residents and families of Estes Park.
Tourism is integral to Estes Park; let’s support the workforce that makes it happen. With a new lodging tax extension, tourism dollars could fund workforce housing and childcare."
Pledge to vote in the November 2022 election to demonstrate your commitment to the workforce in Estes Park.