Friday, April 20, 2012

Local business owners urge county to leave TRT rates unchanged

Two local businessmen spoke out against a proposed increase in Grand County’s transient room tax, saying a higher tax would negatively impact their tourist-based businesses. During the April 17 public hearing regarding a Grand County Council motion to increase the TRT from 3 percent to the maximum allowed 4.25 percent, Doug Sorenson and Brian Merrill asked the council to explore other avenues to raise additional revenue for the county.

Increasing the tax would generate an estimated $728,000 in extra funds, according to council member Chris Baird.

In a presentation to the council, Baird said the TRT increase is necessary in order for the county to successfully manage its budget without increasing property taxes during tough economic times. Baird noted that more than two million visitors come to Moab each year and use county services during their stay. However, those services are paid for through revenue created by the TRT and property taxes in the county, placing much of the burden on local taxpayers.
“Over the years, we’ve worked very hard to cut the budget every year to make sure that in times like this during the recession we are not imposing a property tax increase on our property owners,” Baird said. “I’ve also watched a variety of our fund balances decrease… We are now at the point where a couple of those, which are pretty important, will be depleted by the end of this year.”

Other areas that benefit from TRT revenue are Grand County Search and Rescue, law enforcement, the Old Spanish Trail Arena, the Grand Center, Emergency Medical Services and the Moab Area Travel Council. TRT funds are also slated to help pay for the non-motorized transit hub being built north of Moab, along with paved pathways and trail maintenance. MoabTimes-Independent