In 1986 House Bill 122 authorizing a lodging tax of up to two percent was passed in the Wyoming State Legislature with the general limitation that expenditures were to promote travel and tourism. The law was amended in 1989 to allow up to a four percent tax which is the current rate that is collected in Albany County. Visitors staying short term in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, guest ranches, cabins and campgrounds pay the lodging tax in those areas where it is in place.
The Albany County Tourism Joint Powers Board (ACTB) was formed to manage the Albany County Lodging tax in 1989. Currently, the ACTB is composed of seven individuals, four appointed by the City of Laramie and three appointed by the Albany County Commissioners. They manage a fulltime staff of three individuals in their offices located at 210 E. Custer Street and up to seven seasonal employees who work at the Summit Visitor Center located 12 miles east of Laramie on I-80.
Across Wyoming, local option lodging tax boards utilize dollars generated from their city or county lodging tax to grow their local tourism economy. The ACTB uses the funds collected from the four percent lodging tax to market our unique assets through expenditures for promotional materials, printed advertising, television and radio advertising, online advertising, promotion of tours and other specific tourism related objectives. Additionally, dollars are used to augment promotions from the Wyoming Office of Tourism and the private sector. The ATCB markets Laramie and Albany County in domestic as well as International markets. Funds from the lodging tax allow Laramie to be competitive in attracting conventions, conferences and meetings here.
Frequently advertised to local voters at renewal time as “The Tax You Don’t Pay- but Benefit From” the lodging tax is generated by visitors staying in lodging properties across the state. The four percent lodging tax truly is more of a user fee than a tax. These dollars, in partnership with investments from the State of Wyoming and private businesses, collectively allow us to maximize exposure of all that Laramie and Albany County has to offer travelers seeking a Rocky Mountain destination for their vacation.
According to a 2018 Dean Runyan Associates* report prepared for the Wyoming Office of Tourism, visitor impact in Albany County was significant. It shows that $3.4 million in tax receipts were collected by local businesses from visitors who spent $158.3 million here. That’s 16.7 percent of all sales taxes collected in Albany County. The hospitality industry supported 1,640 jobs here representing 7% of Albany County’s total private employment.
Renewal of the 4% Lodging Tax makes all the sense in the world. Go to the polls on November 5th and vote to renew “The Tax You Don’t Pay”.