From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 23 - September 4, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Fear raises legal issue for lodging tax board

by Cat Urbigkit

Sublette County Treasurer Roxanna Jensen notified Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday that her office has been dispensing the lodging tax revenues incorrectly.

Jensen explained that when the state sends the lodging tax revenue to the county, she has turned the money over to the Sublette County Joint Tourism Promotion Board.

But after conferring with Sublette County Attorney Van Graham, Jensen said she learned that the money needs to be allocated to the county general fund and to each of the county's three incorporated towns, which in turn each allocate the money to the JTPB themselves.

Each entity is to allocate at least 90 percent of the money to the tourism promotion board, according to state statute, Jensen said. Up to 10 percent can be retained by the local governmental entity to help cover the cost of administering the program.

Jensen said while she has been giving the money directly to lodging tax board, that's not the proper way to administer the fund.

"Between the lodging tax board and Van and I, we've discovered it's not being dispensed properly," Jensen said.

Commissioner Betty Fear suggested the county retain 10 percent of its share of the tax revenue to help defray the costs of administering the fund. She questioned the effectiveness of the board, considering the limits imposed on their activities by state statute.

"I just think it's a waste," Fear said, "because they are so confined in what they can spend the money on. They can only use it on promotion."

"It's a very limited scope what they can spend that money on," Fear said, noting that funding requests need to be focused on specific projects.

"If the legislation was written differently ... that would be one thing," Fear said.

Fear also raised concerns about the legality of the JTPB joining forces with the Pinedale Area Chamber of Commerce.

"To me, it seems like it could be a legal problem," Fear said, noting that funding comes from all over the county, but the JTPB is joining up with the Pinedale chamber, not a county-wide chamber.

The commission did decide to have Jensen deduct 10 percent of the county's allocation to cover administrative costs. Jensen told the commission that the towns will also have to make their own decisions whether to take a small percentage off the top to administer the program at their level as well.

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