Editorial: County should not backtrack on Estes Valley workforce

The Estes Valley workforce had great cause for celebration last week when voters passed the lodging tax extension. Based on projections, this lodging tax extension will generate a $5 to $6 million annual revenue stream which can only be used to expand workforce housing and childcare. This is a tremendous boon for the entire community.

The County Commissioners supported this lodging tax increase, and Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNalley wrote an opinion editorial championing this ballot initiative. As Commissioner Shadduck McNalley said, “When the workforce sees the town as an attainable locale where they can work as well as raise their families, it’s setting us all up for a more sustainable future.”

Perspectives: This November, vote for Estes Park’s future

Now Larimer County is proposing to curtail the revenue stream created by the lodging tax extension by reducing the number of short-term rentals in the Estes Valley through a slate of proposed regulations. These regulations would prohibit short-term rentals in zoning districts in which they are currently permitted. The county would also economically attack short-term rentals by limiting the number of days in which certain short-term rentals could be rented. If implemented, these regulations would significantly the number of short-term rentals in the Estes Valley and the resulting revenue from the lodging tax to fund workforce housing and childcare.

Lodging for our visitors is critically important to the economic vitality of our community and short-term rentals are a significant part of our lodging inventory. This issue is far more important to Estes Valley residents than to people who live in other parts of the county because workforce housing and childcare funding is dependent on the revenues from the lodging tax. According to Visit Estes Park, approximately 40 percent of the revenues from the lodging tax over the past several years has come from short-term rentals.   Moreover, substantial town sales tax which the town depends upon is collected from our overnight visitors occupying short-term rentals.

Because the county’s proposed new regulations on STRs would substantially reduce the revenues for workforce housing and childcare, it is important for residents throughout the Estes Valley to contact the Larimer County Commissioners and express their concern about the proposed restrictions which will significantly reduce the anticipated lodging tax extension revenues.

To express your concerns to the Commissioners, they can be reached by email.

John Kefalas, District I, jkefalas@larimer.org

Kristin Stephens, District II, Chair, kstephens@larimer.org

Jody Shadduck-McNally, District III, Chair Pro Tem, JShadduckMcNally@larimer.org

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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