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ER Room Tax Commission Contracts With Firm To Watch Short Term Rentals

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Contracting with a company to identify short term rentals (STR) along with reporting room tax and submitting room taxes to member municipalities was the subject of discussion at the quarterly meeting of the Tuesday Eagle River Area Room Tax Commission made up of the City of Eagle River and the Towns of Washington and Lincoln.

Member Carol Radloff presented information from the firm of Host Compliance how they can monitor more than 50 websites that offer rental registration and capture compliance with room tax payments electronically. The Commission agreed that capturing STR's in many zoning districts remains a challenge for them and the Vilas County Health department. Eagle River administrator Joe Laux said he talked with Town of Lincoln chairman Dick Stoegbauer who didn't object to “hire someone to do it (track short term rental compliance) but they don't want their room tax income reduced.”

Radloff indicated Host Compliance presently contracts with Green Bay and Madison for short term rental compliance “which could generate more room tax revenue, up to 15 times what their cost would be.” Host Compliance service is priced on the number of STR's that need to be monitoried, according to their information.

For instance, Eagle River has 26 current listings with the cost of $45 per listing per year or $1,170. If all three member municipalities participated the number of units monitored would be about 400 for a $18,000 cost. Host Compliance indicates their service ensures fair, continuous and consistent compliance monitoring and enforcement, maximizes tax and permit fee collections, and in most cases additional registration fees can pay for their services. Laux felt for a cost of around $18,000 for one year would be well spent to see what happens.

The commission agreed to look at the room tax ordinance language to determine if the commission has the authority contract with the firm or if all three municipalities need to be signatories. The next quarterly meeting of the Eagle River Area Room Tax Commission isTuesday, March 20, 2020.