The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 5 - 9/28/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
This Week's Letters
Tax Not Unfair!
I am writing in response to the two editorials in the paper about the upcoming lodging tax issue on the November ballot. The first issue that needs to be addressed is that the tax was called a user fee. This was taken out of context by the newspaper. The public meeting that took place lasted almost 2 1/2 hours with presentations and much open debate about the issue (pro and con). At one point, after about 2 hours of discussion a proponent of the lodging tax said "just think of it as a user's fee". No one has tried to disguise the fact that it is a tax. In fact it is the only tax that can be used specifically for the promotion of the county and its events. It is also the only tax that is almost completely paid for by outsiders.
As for the good folks from Utah and their editorial, it took me almost 20 minutes to stop laughing. I travel to Salt Lake City several times a year on business and these are the facts about the taxes they charge. SLC has 6.35% sales tax, a 3% State wide lodging tax and SLC charges an additional 3.5% lodging tax. When you get a room for the night in Salt Lake City you pay 12.85% tax in addition to the price of the room. The good folks from Utah sure don't mind when they have their hands in our pockets! I think it is very clear from the tone of their letter that they were fed information in order to write a negative editorial.
The economy of Sublette County is very dependent on tourism. Our businesses and their employees (our neighbors) need this resource developed and expanded upon. It makes me sad when I see many of my friends and neighbors working 2 and 3 jobs during the summer so they can make it through the winter.
Will Hampton, Pinedale
No to Bed Tax!
What a wonderful way to show our appreciation to the people who come and spend their money in Sublette County and stay in our various motels. We can thank them and add an additional 3% to their bill.
We have many people just traveling through, but lots of visitors return to Pinedale because they like our small town and the surrounding country. They come to hike, hunt, fish and just enjoy a place like Pinedale. Calling that tax a user's fee is interesting. When you pay for your room I always thought you were paying to use it.
We already have one chain motel and it seems we are about to get another. If you want people to be happy and return they need to feel you appreciate their business. My experience with chain motels is that they are all run by hired help that could care less about your comfort or if you have had a good enough time to return. In one article I read the people promoting this tax didn't care about return business but personal experience proved to me the value of return customers. If you are serious about promoting our winter facilities you better know that return guests will make or break a business.
Having owned and run a motel for a long time I know our business would have failed had we not spent a great deal of time making our guests comfortable and happy. They paid us back by returning and recommending us to their friends.
Ms. Noble doesn't need to think she is alone in having 2 mortgages. We had two, my daughter had two. I would venture to say that most share that experience.
Last week the Casper Trib carried an article on the bed tax and stated that 20% of the money a visitor spends goes for lodging, the rest was spent on food, gifts, gas, etc. If this is true why do just the people who stay in motels have to pay the additional 3%. Why not ask every business to add 3% to their out of town customers?
If this tax passes and promotion is successful we can expect more people. We already have to reserve a spot to go to campgrounds at our local lakes. Next will be reservations to hike in the wilderness. Our fishing is being severely stressed, as is hunting. We will end up being another Jackson, Aspen, or Telluride where people can't afford to live and work.
My observation is that a lot of our new citizens come to this country for the same reasons we all live here, small town, good schools, lots of recreation, clean water, and very little pollution.
Isn't it interesting those people are the very ones recommending that we pass a tax to be used for promoting so we can be just like the place they left. Please give some serious thought to this tax and decide how you would feel if the tax was levied on you without your vote. Please keep Sublette County free of the bed tax. Vote no.
Doris Burzlander, Pinedale
We Need Paid EMTs
A recent emergency call to the Pinedale Ambulance Service brought no response; there were no EMTs available to perform their volunteer service. The only surprise should be that this unfortunate event hasn't happened sooner and on a more frequent basis. Those involved with the service have been predicting this possibility for a couple of years now.
Yet some people are outraged. Others have convinced themselves that the non-response was a premeditated action by the Pinedale EMTs to emphasize the heavy workload they are attempting to handle, and to highlight the current issue of establishing a core crew of paid EMTs.
The Pinedale EMTs who I'm acquainted with are involved in this volunteer service first of all, because they are humanitarians; they possess that inner need to help others. In addition they all possess the ability and the interest to learn and utilize medical knowledge. Who else would want to be involved in the nuts and bolts, the blood and guts of medical emergencies in the field? To suggest that the Pinedale EMTs would willingly - as a group or individually-ignore an ambulance tone is just plain stupid and insulting.
Most Pinedale EMTs work full-time jobs. Unfortunately, ambulance emergencies aren't conveniently scheduled for off-the-job hours. A paid core crew of qualified EMTs would assure 24-hour response.
A Health Care Board recently remarked that a paid ambulance service... "isn't going to happen..." in Sublette County. Believe it or not, for better or worse (mostly worse) this isn't Sublette County circa 1950. Times they are a changing. And Sublette County streets are not exactly lined with qualified potential EMTs just waiting to be pressed into volunteer service. Someone should consider that a volunteer ambulance service may not continue to happen either.
Hoping to never need an ambulance...
John Fandek, Cora
The Bed Tax Works
As you know, I have lived in the Pinedale area for four years. I remember how difficult it was to keep asking the same people (retailers, restaurants, lodging facilities, the Chamber and the Town) to support every event. After a while your resources become limited and in spite of the efforts of many, you still hear "There's nothin' to do around here."
After moving here to Saratoga, where we do have a lodging tax, I began to see the value of having such a tax. Saratoga is about the same size as Pinedale. Our Chamber and Visitors Council (the organization that distributes the money collected from the lodging tax) work to provide more area exposure, coordinate events and help non-profit organizations (i.e. The Arts Council, the Lions Club, etc.) to offset the costs of their events.
Organizations are able to sponsor more events year round, as a result. And as you know, more events provide the opportunity for more tourists and more community involvement.
I also think it's safe to say that visitors will not object to paying a little more for their stay. I have yet to hear of someone unwilling to stay overnight because of our lodging tax.
Best of luck in passing your tax ...
Cindy Loose, Saratoga
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