Spear withdraws request for lodging tax increase

It was a full house and several letters were read out during public comment when a recent item on Ely City Council’s agenda caused great concern among non-profits and citizens of the whole county.

The article? Councilor Ed Spear had requested approval of the agenda item to increase the percentage of the transitional accommodation tax collected by the city from 2.5% to 5% for the Capital Improvement Fund.

This would have taken effect on January 1, with a subsequent increase of 1% for the general fund.

This would have been an increase in the hospitality industry that would have impacted hospitality businesses by 15% for their customers, which in turn would have affected restaurants, special events and retail stores, leaving an economic impact on the whole county.

Spear’s calculations in the documentation provided for the meeting would have left the White Pine Tour & Recreation Board less than $60,000 per year to operate above fixed expenses.

Essentially, this decision would have eliminated all tourism marketing and support for non-profit organizations through the Organizational Assistance ($74,550), Capital ($71,000) and Outdoor Recreation grants ( $49,000). The other supporting elements for Main Street, WP Public Museum, etc. would also be eliminated.

But before any of that could be discussed, at the start of the meeting, Ely Town Mayor Nathan Robertson asked if any items should be taken off the agenda. Ed Spear quickly requested that this item be removed.

Several local residents were already in the crowd, and while some stood and thanked Spear for removing the object, some had quite a few words for Spear whose term ends after this week.

White Pine Corral Association corral boss Kent Lynskey stood and thanked the tour and recreation board.

“We have a new arena, a stringing dummy to help train those interested in stringing, and many other things, without them we couldn’t have made it as far as we have,” did he declare.

Mitch McVicars, with the Bristlecone Bowmen, stood before council and the mayor and echoed Lynskey’s comment, noting the tremendous help from the White Pine Tourism and Recreation Board.

Bill Wolf said: “Even though the agenda item has been crossed out for this meeting, I would like to say that I am opposed to having this item on the agenda, and I’m sure we we’ll all be here the next time he shows up. ”

“I’m a small business owner, I oppose Section 4, it’s sad it even got here. We are a small business trying to survive and it seemed like the support from the City of Ely wasn’t supporting us, so it’s sad to see this on the agenda,” said Luis Tristan.

Several letters were read, all from non-profit organizations such as the White Pine Horse Race Committee, Lund Rodeo Association, Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts and several others who rely heavily on grants from the Tours and Recreation Board, explaining the success of their events. with the help of the board of directors.

The article even touched a nerve with former mayor Melody VanCamp. In her letter, which she asked to read, she explained that when the city first decided to institute the transitional tax several years ago, it was to give the city the opportunity to obtain a funding for infrastructure, maintenance and improvements.

“It was not intended to rob, steal, rip or break the Tour and Rec board,” VanCamp’s letter said. “I remember several years ago when the city was considering a transitional tax, Councilor Spear was employed by the convention center (visiting and recreation council) and was adamantly against this tax as it would have affected his travels . Why this sudden change of mind Mr. Spear? Are you ready to decimate Tour and Rec before leaving office? VanCamp said.

Kyle Horvath, director of the White Pine Tourism and Recreation Board, stood in front of the council and thanked Spear for removing the article.

“I look forward to continuing to work with all of you,” Horvath said. “I want to thank everyone in the community for the support this week. It’s very humbling, it’s really the community that makes this job so rewarding.

Travel Nevada reported a single number when it comes to visitor spending. In 2021, visitor spending reached nearly $51 million in White Pine County. That’s nearly $3 million more than visitor spending in 2019 (pre-pandemic). Visitor spending in 2021 also sustained 12.6% of White Pine County’s jobs.

Although 415 jobs were directly supported by travel and tourism in White Pine in 2021, the total number of jobs impacted by travel and tourism was 654, meaning that 239 jobs were impacted secondarily.

The new members of Ely City Council will be seated on November 17. Councilors Spear and Flangas chose not to run, Terrill Trask who was not opposed will be seated and the individual elected after this week, between Samantha Elliott and Bruce Setterstrom will also be seated.

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