Check out the seven Airbnb listings in the Morgan area.
The Brass Ring Bed and Breakfast in Morgan County offers three rooms just one mile from Snowbasin Ski Resort for $149 each night, complete with breakfast. Another offers the complete lower level of their home for $99 per night 10 minutes from Snowbasin.
Other Morgan offerings include an entire home for 16 guests, “perfect for family reunions,” for $200 a night. Hold your family reunions in a home that can sleep up to 16 guests near East Canyon for $229 each night. Morgan City’s Hotel Vallis is on the listing action as well, offering a private room for two guests for $60 per night.
Morgan County’s new Economic Development Director, Stephen Lyon, said that Morgan is popping up on several online websites that enable customers to list or rent short-term lodging in residential properties. His recent search of Airbnb, KSL Classifieds and Craig’s List turned up a total of 19 Morgan County lodging options. Of those 19, seven of them are considered secondary homes and therefore pay more property taxes annually.
“We know it is going on,” Lyon said. “Mountain Green has the highest active listings, but there is also Hardscrabble and East Canyon.”
For a county that doesn’t have a commercial hotel, that is a lot of lodging options, if you know where to look.
But county officials are also catching on, claiming that Morgan isn’t benefitting from “transient room taxes,” or TRT, that could bring in valuable revenue.
During his first scheduled agenda item as the county’s economic development director, Lyon said it would be in the county’s best interest to consider adopting an ordinance calling for the collection of such tax on properties offered for rent in Morgan.
Such ordinances have been enacted in Rich County, Park City, St. George and Ogden City, Lyon said. The state is also forming a task force to go after Airbnb taxes, similar to how the state went after Amazon to collect sales tax.
“I would like to be on the forefront ahead of” the state collecting that tax in place of local city or county collection, Lyon said. “We want to put in an enforcement mechanism in the county, and we want to collect the TRT.”
The TRT in Morgan County is 4.25 percent, while the tax in the city is 5.25 percent.
Lyon said Morgan County doesn’t have “anything zoned for this,” the closest being mention of a bed and breakfast. Besides collecting the TRT, Lyon said the county should look at requiring property owners who rent out their homes to obtain a business license.
The ordinance would also regulate other issues of residential vacation rental businesses such as parking, enforcement of civil and criminal acts, garbage, a maximum length of stay, and number of actual guests vs. home capacity.
These are the sort of issues Porterville resident Kelly Carter has been dealing with while living next door to such a home for more than 15 years.
She has been dealing with renters trespassing on her property, at times while riding four wheelers and other times up to 40 people sledding down her hill. Renters park on her property when cars can’t make it up the hill to the rental property.
“If people crashed and got injured on my property, they would be suing me, not the guy renting the home to them,” Carter said.
Renters also cut her fences, shoot firearms toward her home during hunting season, sleep 30 guests in one home, and conduct rowdy parties with drugs and alcohol that extend into the early hours of the morning.
“This problem is becoming countywide. These homes have been popping up all over the county,” Carter said. “I don’t want to stop businesses from coming into the county. Actually, the opposite. But I do want them regulated. There has to be some sort of way to have these businesses checked in on.”
There is a flip side to the coin, county officials said.
Bringing these rental opportunities to light would help dispel the myth that Morgan has no “place to stay,” Lyon said.
“It is a nice way to highlight that the county has places to stay that are open and nice,” Lyon said. “You have people who would like to have a nice place to stay.”
The Morgan County Council agreed that the planning commission would need to hear the issue as it relates to zoning, and the council would need to consider it as part of an ordinance adoption. The council asked Lyon to research if Grand County, with the Moab recreation area, has such an ordinance there.