Representative Lyman’s threat to shift tourism impact costs from tourists to Grand county tax payers cast a sharp light on one of the perils of gerrymandering. Though Representative Lyman now represents Grand County, he doesn’t yet appear to have a good grasp of our needs.

For a long time many Grand County residents have thought that tourists should pay more of the additional costs with which we have been saddled by our exploding tourist industry. Millions of visitors a year cost our local government money and have had real impacts on our quality of life. 

As more and more properties are devoted to overnight rentals our housing costs have soared; noise pollution has become both an irritant and health problem; our search and rescue is now the busiest in the state; piles of trash and seas of sewage left by tourists have required major upgrades to our solid waste and sewage disposal operations. Overall, our living costs have sky-rocketed. The more tourists pay for their costs, the better. The extra flexibility that H.B. 247 has given the county in spending TRT funds has benefited Grand County taxpayers by cushioning local taxpayers from some of these costs. Tourist tax dollars via TRT funds have helped pay for major airport improvements and costs to the county of our improved air service, keeping our solid waste district functioning, helping county employees survive tourist town housing costs, a sheriff’s department with the resources to protect and serve both residents and visitors, an economic development department that actually has the resources to support local business and especially ones that diversify our economy.

The legislature should not allow the promise made in H.B. 247 for a five-year trial of the expanded TRT flexibility to be abandoned. Doing so would be bad public policy.

Bob Greenberg