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Winthrop's Three Percent Tax
Motel-Hotel Tax

Winthrop’s three percent hotel-motel tax brought in a record number of dollars for the month of May and the year-to-date receipts also are at record levels, according to a report given at Thursday’s Winthrop Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Kristen Smith, who shared the news as part of her marketing report, told Grist that $10,383 was collected in May, the latest month for which figures are available. The 2012 tax income is up about $1,800 over last year. Year-to-date, the tax has brought in $38,637, she added.

Smith, who markets the town as an independent contractor, said the pot of money is only from hotels and motel within the town limits. Money collected from accommodations outside Winthrop goes into Okanogan County’s coffers. However, some of the county money comes back to the Methow Valley, Smith said, citing the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association as one recipient.

Smith explained that at the time the finances for Seattle’s Kingdome were being figured out, the state Legislature passed a law allowing communities to create a three percent hotel-motel tax that could be used only for marketing purposes. For a town to create the tax, 100 percent of the hotel-motel owners had to be on board, she added. Smith credits Dan Kuperberg, owner of the Chewuch Inn and Cabins, for getting the local tax created. The state collects the money and returns it to the town.

“We budget about $85,000 a year” to spend on promoting Winthrop, said Smith, who works with a marketing committee of seven people. “There are really strict rules about where it can be spent.”

Smith told chamber members that the town’s marketing highlight of the summer has been the visit of the American Pickers television crew. “American Pickers is still the biggest thing that ever happened to our town... We had 20,000 views a day on our Facebook page when they were here.” The pickers visited the White Buck Trading Post in downtown Winthrop earlier this summer for a show that will air sometime this fall on the History Channel.


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