Golden city council planning lodging tax question for November ballot

City is one of few in area that doesn’t tax hotel stays

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/26/21

When Golden voters head to the polls next November, they will likely be asked to decide whether the city will institute the first lodging tax in its history. On May 18, the Golden city council …

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Golden city council planning lodging tax question for November ballot

City is one of few in area that doesn’t tax hotel stays

Posted

When Golden voters head to the polls next November, they will likely be asked to decide whether the city will institute the first lodging tax in its history.

On May 18, the Golden city council instructed city staff to draft language for a ballot question that would ask residents to approve a tax on all stays in the city of up to 30 days, including stays at hotels, motels, Airbnbs and even campgrounds.

The council is now scheduled to review that question and vote on whether it will be referred to the ballot at its meeting on June 15.

The question of whether Golden should institute a lodging tax has percolated in the city for years as Golden has long been one of just a few cities both in the Denver metro area and nationwide not to have such a tax. However, those discussions have gained steam more recently and council hammered out a preliminary framework for the tax at its retreat last April.

Under that framework, which council agreed city staff should move forward with drafting into the ballot question and the accompanying ordinance that will lay out how the tax will be collected and money will be spent in greater detail, the city will seek voter approval to levy a lodging tax of six percent.

Golden Community and Economic Developer Steve Glueck said that 6% figure would put the city’s lodging tax “midrange” among cities in metro Denver. The city of Denver, for example, charges a lodging tax of 10.75% while Boulder’s city lodging tax is 7.5%. Cities that charge a lower figure include Lakewood (3%) and Arvada (2%).

For the first 10 years, tax proceeds would be earmarked for two purposes. 20% of the revenue would be committed to funding what a memo from Glueck describes as “additional programs or projects to address the impact of visitors on the community.” The memo states targets for such spending could include enhanced maintenance, parking management and public safety.”

The remaining 80% would be spent on what Glueck’s memo referred to as “thriving community projects and programs intended to facilitate enhanced quality of life and amenities for the Golden community that would otherwise not be funded.”

The memo states that such projects could include “parks, trail and open space improvements, infrastructure projects, community mobility and sustainability projects and even housing programs and projects.

Glueck said the city estimates that a 6% lodging tax would initially generate around $1.5 million per year with that number growing over time. That estimate is based on city lodging occupancy pre-pandemic.

Much of the May 18 discussion focused on to present the lodging tax to the community so that residents could understand how it would work and the potential benefits.

Councilman Rob Reed proposed calling the tax plan “The Golden plan” as a way of highlighting the potential benefits for residents.

“In promoting the lodging tax concept, we would explain that The Golden Plan is for the big picture stuff that we think is really cool and can’t do otherwise,” he said.

But while there are still final decisions to be made about the precise wording of the ballot question and ordinance, all seven members of the council expressed a desire to move forward with the 6% framework.

Councilman Jim Dale said he was an agreement with an email from a constituent who said they travel a lot and have never once checked the lodging tax before departing.

“I think we should have a fair lodging tax, which is midrange in our region here,” he said.

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