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This fall, residents of Buena Vista will have the opportunity to vote on Ballot item 2A via a mail-ballot election. Item 2A is a proposed lodging tax on both hotels and private vacation rentals that fall within the city limits.

The tax would be levied as a flat rate, and not as a percentage. For hotels, a tax of $3 per room/night is the proposed rate, and $5 per room/night for private vacation rentals.

In Buena Vista, hotels already pay a commercial property tax, as well as sales tax and the existing county lodging tax (currently at 1.9 percent). These existing taxes are the reason for the $2 discrepancy between the proposed rates for hotels and private vacation rentals.

Projected to generate approximately $210,00 in its first year, the revenue from the proposed tax would be placed in a Capital Improvement fund. According to the proposal, these funds would be apportioned to projects including “public safety equipment and facilities, open space and recreational areas and facilities, signage and way-finding and town beatification.”

Lisa Webb, a local vacation rental property manager, is disappointed that the city has proposed the new tax on private vacation rentals. Webb, who manages the Spruce Lodge on Main Street, is concerned that this tax could lead to more.

“If we do this tax, what is the next one? When does it stop? When is enough, enough?” said Webb. For both hotels and private rentals, the tax means either a dip in profit margin or an in increase in nightly rates.

Will a slight increase in rates for private rentals deter patrons from renting in Buena Vista?

“Probably not,” Webb said, though she added she was not looking forward to telling guests they may have to pay more out of pocket.

“Can’t we just be thankful they [tourists] are here and already spend lots of money in our town?”

Chris – who preferred not to give her last name – manages the Great Western Sumac Lodge on US 24. Though not as adamant as Webb, Chris is also somewhat miffed by the proposed tax.

“I’m already going 280 miles per hour,” she said. “I don’t know too much about it, but it’s another tax on the hotel.”

Ultimately, the revenue generated by the tax would be put to good use in improving the city of Buena Vista. However, everything comes at a cost. Residents of Buena Vista have a chance to have their opinion count in the Nov. 6  election.