Lodgers’ tax breaks records for 11th month


“Through October, the 2014 lodging tax collections continue to show impressive growth,” states a Town Tourism Committee report created by Director Jennie Green.

The report was the TTC’s department head report that was presented to the Pagosa Springs Town Council at its meeting on Dec. 18 and indicated that, on top of September’s growth, lodgers’ tax collections have broken records for 11 consecutive months.

According to the report, September 2014 was up 12.41 percent, or $5,289.80, over September 2013.

Year-to-date, the lodging tax is up 17.69 percent, or $66,065.

The report also indicated that the month set a collections record.

“September 2011 had set the previous record collections at $44,944.49. Collections in 2014 totaled $47,904.80,” Green wrote in the report.

With a few payments outstanding, Green’s report indicated that October’s collections looked to be up over 5 percent from the previous year, which itself was a strong month.

“October 2013 had shown huge growth over all previous Octobers, and 2014 grew modestly from the large increase seen last year. October marks the 11th month in a row with record-breaking tax collections.”

However, despite the strong news, Green’s report suggested that a change could be around the corner.

“Expectations should be tempered for November and December given recent ‘non-winter’ weather,” the report reads.

In other business at the meeting, the council:

• Unanimously approved the first reading of Ordinance 818, which would amend the town’s Land Use and Development Code to provide for a code board of appeals.

The board of appeals, which would hear appeals related to fire and building codes within town boundaries, was recommended by both the town’s Building Department at the Pagosa Fire Protection District.

The ordinance dictates that this new board would consist of five regular members and three alternates. Town Council and the Pagosa Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors will appoint all of these board members jointly, and none of them are allowed to be employees of either the town or the district.

In addition, two of the members must have experience with building construction, two must be engineers or design professionals and one must be an experienced fire protection professional.

Terms for the board members would be staggered once established. Initially, one of the members would be appointed for five years, the next for four, the next for three, and so on. Once the seats are staggered in this manner, all subsequent terms would be for five years. The three alternate seats would be staggered in a similar manner, and then would be three-year appointments.

A resolution regarding membership for the new board, however, is expected to come before the council at its next meeting, along with the second reading of the ordinance.

• Amended the 2014 budget, including amendments for the funding for things such as an elementary school crossing guard and the purchase of the Pagosa Springs Visitor Center.

• Unanimously approved an agreement for prosecutorial services for civil cases in municipal court.

On Jan. 17, Town Council passed Ordinance 802, put to the voters a question regarding changing the town’s Home Rule Charter to amend the powers of the Town of Pagosa Springs Municipal Court.

The ballot question passed, making it so that civil matters regarding a violation of the town code, including the Land Use and Development Code, be tried in municipal court.

In response, current municipal prosecutor D. Brett Van Winkle will act as the town’s prosecutor for the civil matters, as well, at a rate of $100 per hour. That funding, $10,000, is budgeted to come out of the Planning and Building Department.

Van Winkle will work under the oversight and discretion of the town’s main attorney, Bob Cole, which caused Councilor Tracy Bunning to ask that work done between Cole and Van Winkle be broken out on the billing.