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    Otero County Commission want to implement a lodgers tax for potential economic development

    By Juan Corral, Alamogordo Daily News,

    2024-04-15

    The Otero County Commission discussed adopting a 5% lodgers' tax for short term rental properties.

    A lodgers' tax applies to rental transactions for properties within county limits for which the rental periods is 30 days or less. The tax revenue is then used by municipalities to promote their destinations and drive tourism. This includes properties offered for rent on Airbnb and other online rent platforms.

    County Attorney RB Nichols said at the goal of the tax is to increase economic development.

    “The lodgers' tax can be anything up to 5% ... The first 30 days that someone stays that you collect can only be used for limited purposes of the administration of the tax and advertising," Nichols said.

    Any lodgers' tax revenue collected for stays 31 days or more "can be used for any general fund purpose that the Commission designates," Nichols said. He said that gives the Commission flexibility in passing yearly resolutions to adjust the use of the revenue as needed.

    Nichols said an advisory board would be appointed to administer the use of the tax revenue collected.

    Approximately 80 rental properties within Otero County limits would be impacted if a tax were enacted.

    County Treasurer Laura Whiteside said she was concerned the tax would be discriminatory, dissuade visitor from renting properties in Otero County and confuse property owners.

    “I don’t think it’s fair to the unincorporated areas that they have to charge more of a fee,” Whiteside said, pointing to her belief it would make renters less likely to want to stay at those properties.

    But Nichols as well as Commissioner Amy Barela said the 5% tax is nominal.

    “It’s $2.50 for $50. I stayed two nights in Santa Fe, $35 a night extra for the lodgers' tax. I didn’t have a choice, I had to stay,” Barela said.

    She said it's in the County's best interest to impose taxes that have the ability to improve "quality of life."

    Though nothing was decided, Nichols said the Commission must have the final document prepared by April 24 in order to hold a public meeting. The Commission will meet again to discuss the finalized document on April 17 in hopes to hold a public meeting on May 8 at 5:30 p.m.

    The Commission decided it would be best to review the current draft of the lodgers' tax ordinance stating any short-term renters would pay 5% of taxes under 30 days to reflect a longer time frame and other unannounced changes.

    Juan Corral can be reached at JCorral@gannett.com or on twitter at @Juan36Corr .

    This article originally appeared on Alamogordo Daily News: Otero County Commission want to implement a lodgers tax for potential economic development

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