The Hubbard County Board is considering collecting a lodging tax.
The funds would help pay for an additional staff member at the Hubbard County Environmental Services Office to process permits for short-term residential rentals (STR), commonly known as Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBOs).
The board officially authorized the planning commission to develop draft VRBO regulations at their Sept. 15 meeting.
County commissioner Tom Krueger, a former resort owner, said there is currently a voluntary lodging tax which goes to the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce strictly for marketing. The county would need to set up its own, he suggested.
County commissioner David De La Hunt recommended reviewing old county board minutes regarding the lodging tax. “There’s a process that was followed, and depending on which process they used, you could easily make it mandatory by resolution” or it may require a lengthier effort, he said. “There’s a little bit of homework that has to be done on that to know exactly how that would work out.”
De La Hunt said there are proponents of making the lodging tax countywide. “Right now, I think it’s mandatory in the city, but everywhere else it’s voluntary.”
Board chair Char Christenson asked the ESO to find out if it can be the VRBO property owner’s responsibility to get certified by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
ESO Director Eric Buitenwerf said he would look into that, adding it’s his understanding that MDH only investigates complaints about hot tubs or swimming pools at VRBOs.
In other business, the county board did as follows:
Approved the low quote of $3,198 for Shure Handheld microphones for the county courtrooms.
Approved the $5,000 funding request from City of Park Rapids for the Depot Park tennis courts.
Approved the $3,780 for 10 softphones and 10 phones with required licenses, plus $3,225 for professional services and labor from Marco of St. Cloud.
Approved a cooperative construction agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for lighting, signing and other work to be performed on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 28 between its junction with U.S. Hwy. 71 and the junction of CSAH 48 and U.S. Hwy. 71.
Approved the low quote of $3,399 from Epic Sports, Inc. of Bel Aire, Kansas for a pavement marking machine to be used by the county public works department.
Approved timber appraisals for 11 tracts on the Oct. 5 timber auction, totalling 7,323 cords and 337 acres. Appraised value was $171,000.
Agreed to be one of four fiscal agents for a Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Board grant. The county will provide $30,000 up front to purchase ARMOR radios and batteries, then be reimbursed within 30 days.