Increasing LART doesn’t make sense any way you look at it

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Dear Editor:
RE: “Why not ‘shift’ the focus to increasing the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax?”
The meeting and tourism industry has become a popular target for those hoping to raise funds to make up for budget shortfalls. It’s easy to think that it would be harmless to increase taxes and fees paid by visitors to our city and state.
The meetings and tourism industry accounts for $14.1 billion in economic impact to our state and is the third largest business sector in the state behind only coal/oil/gas and agriculture. In the Pikes Peak region, 6.2 million visitors spend $1 billion pumping $19 million into our tax coffers.
About 20 years ago Colorado cut all tourism advertising dollars from the state budget. Consequently within two years we fell from being consistently in the top 10 in states with the most economic impact from tourism to the bottom 10. Two years ago the state legislature reinstated some of that funding and now our meetings and tourism industries are showing a healthy gain.
The main problem with raising the bed tax is that you would over burden an already struggling business sector. The fact is one hotel in this region pays the lion’s share of that tax and it would be unfair to expect them to pay even more.
An increase in the car rental tax doesn’t make much sense either. The majority of rentals are done by people living in the city in which the car is rented. If you are targeting visitors you are missing the mark there.
In addition to all of that, the tourism and business travel press watches things like this very carefully. Any increase in fees or taxes would result in a decrease in visitors to our state and region. We’ve finally gotten our state’s tourism industry healthy again, why tamper with success
These are the very arguments used against the exact same proposal that came out of Gov. Bill Ritter’s transportation committee. The state saw the reasoning behind those objections and decided against the proposals, we should too.
David Vessey, Colorado Springs