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Commission chief: County should get direct cut of lodging tax

May 7, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Travis Becker, chairman of the Fremont County Commission, is pushing for the county government to receive 10 percent of the county's lodging tax receipts.

Currently, the bulk of the lodging tax goes to the Wind River Visitors Council for tourism marketing, with another 25 percent being distributed to municipalities for "tourism asset development," events and other programs that help tourism.

County officials help oversee and appoint members to the visitor's council, but the county's coffers don't directly benefit.

Statute

"I have some issues with what statute statue says and what the county currently receives," the Riverton commissioner said.

"According to the way I read state statute, it's supposed to be 10 percent."

Mike Anderson, who represents Hudson on the Joint Powers Board for the lodging tax, said he'd be open to distributing funds to the county, but only if projects were developed to spur tourism.

"If you just put it in the general fund, how is that benefiting the voters?" he said.

Becker argued that no caveats should be placed on the county's use of those funds.

Deputy Fremont County Attorney Jodi Darrough said she agreed that Wyoming statutes indicates simply that the county "shall" receive 10 percent of the lodging tax collected within the county.

Using the money

Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger said the receipts could be used to reimburse the county's expenditures that already promote tourism, including the $250,000 subsidy given this fiscal year to help air service at Riverton Regional Airport.

The discussions on the lodging tax come as the officials have met to revise their joint powers agreement for the bed tax.

That agreement, which was developed in 1989, established the Wind River Visitors Council and provided that the board include one representative from Shoshoni, one from Hudson, two from Dubois, two from Riverton, two from Lander, and two from other areas of the county.

Visitors council representatives currently are required to reside within the corporate limits of those municipalities, which officials now believe is overly restrictive.

The joint powers agreement is being revised to allow for representatives from the immediate areas surrounding those municipalities rather than strictly within the city limits.

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2017-10-22

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