The Natrona County Travel & Tourism Concil, also known as Visit Casper, is funded by the local lodging tax that is imposed on people staying at places like hotels and campgrounds in the county. (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — When voters in Natrona County go to cast a General Election ballot this fall, they will be asked to consider whether to renew the local lodging tax.

Lodging tax is paid by visitors staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds and similar establishments. Unless Natrona County residents stay in these establishments, they do not pay the local lodging tax. School groups and other tax-exempt entities are not required to pay the lodging tax.

The local lodging tax question will look a little different on the ballot this fall compared with years past due to Wyoming’s new statewide lodging tax. Wyoming’s new 5% statewide lodging tax structure took effect on July 1, 2021, after Governor Mark Gordon signed the lodging tax legislation into law in March 2020.

Prior to the statewide lodging tax taking effect, local governments were able to impose local lodging taxes up to 4%. Under the new law, local lodging taxes are capped at 2%. However, 2% of the 5% statewide lodging tax is distributed to counties in proportion to the statewide lodging taxes collected within that county.

Therefore, the question before Natrona County voters this fall will be whether to approve the 2% local lodging tax. The question will appear on Natrona County ballots as follows:

2% Lodging Tax

This tax is paid by visitors staying in hotels, motels, campgrounds, and similar establishments providing temporary quarters or space for transient guests. Unless staying in these establishments, residents of Natrona County do not pay this tax. School groups and other tax-exempt entities do not pay this tax. Shall the County Commissioners of Natrona County, State of Wyoming be authorized to continue this lodging tax?

In Natrona, the lodging tax goes to support the Natrona County Travel & Tourism Council, which also operates under the name Visit Casper. That entity works to promote travel and tourism in the Casper area. The Natrona County Travel & Tourism Council approved a new budget for fiscal year 2023 in July that includes spending authority of up to $1,801,600, about $300,000 less than in its FY 2022 budget.

Local lodging tax collections in Natrona County from FY 2010 through FY 2021 were as follows, according to the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division:

  • FY 2010: $943,285
  • FY 2011: $1,005,051
  • FY 2012: $1,204,887
  • FY 2013: $1,288,626
  • FY 2014: $1,349,272
  • FY 2015: $1,693,494
  • FY 2016: $1,650,893
  • FY 2017: $1,492,867
  • FY 2018: $1,642,983
  • FY 2019: $1,818,142
  • FY 2020: $1,818,691
  • FY 2021: $1,332,451