Letter: Imposing new tax on short-term rentals will harm Steamboat and Routt County

I can’t vote in local elections. I bought my house to enjoy the sports amenities of Steamboat. I live somewhere else and hope to eventually move to Steamboat permanently. Renting my unit on a short-term basis allows me to afford the mortgage insurance, taxes and maintenance. Here is my response to the proposal to tax STRs a 9% tax on top of sales and lodging taxes. 

Steamboat has had STRs since the creation of the ski area. Routt County had a plan for workforce housing and affordability in 2004 that was never acted on. Now they choose to blame lack of housing and affordability on the existence of STRs. There is a low wage problem, and a lack of affordable housing, so workers cannot live in Steamboat. 

STRs contribute more to the economy than long-term rentals or vacant second homes. STRs hire house cleaners, maintenance people, property managers, ski rentals, food services, etc. The velocity of money multiplies this by the number of licensed STRs, and they contribute a significant revenue to the Steamboat economy.

Please consider the possible ramifications of a 20% tax imposed on visitors to Steamboat Springs:

• Steamboat will have one of the highest STR visitor taxes of any major ski town in Colorado. This will not go unnoticed.

• While there is some price elasticity that visitors will bear, a 20% tax will cause them to look elsewhere. Vail is pretty awesome, and it has a lower lodging tax.

• Altera, which is pumping some $200 million into Steamboat Resort, will face dwindling visitations and an environment that is hostile to visitors. This may encourage Altera to pull out. Altera is a large development corporation. They are investing in Steamboat ski area to improve and increase visitations. They are not benevolent. Corporations have been known to cut their losses and move on. Don’t think it can’t happen

Here is the solution: Increase the lodging tax 1% to 3% for every lodging entity and finance Brown Ranch by issuing municipal bonds or with a metro district.

Howard Fischer


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