Revenues from the city’s lodging tax are on pace to exceed budget expectations for 2012 by $157,000.
Last fall, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) set its 2012 destination marketing budget at $1.57 million. The budget is funded by 1.5 percent of a 2 percent lodging tax, with the rest of the proceeds going to fund the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. ACRA officials successfully lobbied the Aspen electorate to pass an increase to the tax in 2010. The organization’s marketing budget is separate from its general operating budget, which is fueled by membership dues, sponsorships, sales from events and other revenue sources.
Although end-of-the-year revenues are not in yet, the tax is on pace to exceed its $1.57 million marketing budget by $157,000, said Julia Theisen, ACRA’s vice president of sales and marketing. That number is based on tax revenue through September and could change depending on whether the final three months of the year meet projected revenue expectations, she added.
City Council questioned how the surplus tax dollars would be spent in a work session last week. Mayor Mick Ireland argued that any funds brought in by the lodging tax that aren’t budgeted should go into a city-controlled fund from which ACRA can request money. That way there is a clear and transparent process for appropriating the surplus and council can use the extra money to pay for other unanticipated marketing ideas if they arise, he said. ACRA President and CEO Debbie Braun said the organization was not in support of the change in process, because it could create competition for those dollars between ACRA and other organizations promoting special events.
In the past, surplus tax dollars were given to ACRA without a formal review by council of how the organization was spending the money.