Super 8 owner puts big bucks into fight against lodging tax

Robert Feeley, owner of the Super 8 Motel on Horizon Drive, says the proposed lodging tax increase is too high. "It's going to hurt us," he said. Grand Junction "is a nice place, but it's not that nice."

A committee opposing a ballot measure that would double Grand Junction's lodging tax to 6 percent has raised more than twice as much money as proponents for Referred Measure 2A.

The campaign committee "Keep Your Job in Grand Junction" raised $55,135 from a few donors who own hotels on Horizon Drive.

By comparison, "The Tax You Don't Pay" committee, which is advocating on behalf of increasing the lodging tax, has raised $23,500 from a variety of individuals and business owners, including building contractors, a Realtor, an insurance agent, a restaurant owner and an investment company.

The funds represent campaign contributions through the latest reporting period that ended Oct. 11.

The "Tax You Don't Pay" campaign reported spending $5,226 on social media and billboards. "Keep Your Job in Grand Junction" hasn't yet reported any spending.

Robert Feeley and family members who jointly own Super 8 Motel, 728 Horizon Drive, contributed $40,135, the bulk of the campaign funds raised to oppose the measure.

Feeley said Monday he believes the lodging tax increase is too high.

Increasing the lodging tax from 3 percent to 6 percent, then combining it with state, county and city sales tax, means Grand Junction hotel customers would pay a total of 14.02 percent in taxes on their rooms.

The proposed increase portends a "disaster" for the lodging industry, he claims.

"It's going to hurt us," Feeley said. "If you're a hotel owner you absolutely are not for this thing."

Feeley said he took his family on a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, recently and paid a combined 12.5 percent tax for a hotel stay there.

Seeking a combined 14 percent tax on Grand Junction lodging facilities is out of line, he said.

"It's a nice place, but it's not that nice," he said of Grand Junction. "If it passes, they're (tax supporters) almost assuming that people who are coming into this town don't have intelligence."

The Horizon Drive Business Improvement District says 72 percent of Grand Junction lodging facilities are within the district. District board members voted unanimously to support the 3 percent lodging tax increase measure.

If the tax is approved, the additional money will go to fund three specific efforts — improved air service at Grand Junction Regional Airport by attracting new flights with incentives, marketing and promoting sporting events through the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission, and a bigger budget for more destination marketing with Visit Grand Junction.

Backers of the measure have said the potential for expanding air service and tourism in the Grand Valley is worth the estimated extra $2.50 per room, per night in tax.

Only Grand Junction residents vote on Referred Measure 2A.

Nearly 8 percent of ballots had been returned to Mesa County elections officials as of Monday.

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