Rossland city council decided to move forward with eliminating two short-term rental fees during a meeting on Oct. 5.
The first fee is a $400 deposit that property owners pay in the event they commit a bylaw infraction during their first year in operation. The city has then been refunding the deposit back to the property owners if no infractions occur.
According to a report by city chief financial officer Elma Hamming, there haven’t been any bylaw infractions committed by newer short-term rentals and that it was counterproductive to keep collecting, tracking and refunding the deposit.
The second fee to be eliminated is the $150 Tourism Rossland Fee (TRF) that property owners pay to the city anually for their short-term rental. The city sends the money collected from the fee to Tourism Rossland.
The TRF is supposed to level the playing field for businesses that don’t have to pay the Municipal Regional District Tax (MRDT) , however the report acknowledges it hasn’t been effective because the city doesn’t know how many businesses actually pay the tax due to privacy restrictions.
While there are currently 34 short-term rentals in downtown Rossland, a bylaw permits up to 88 to operate.
Mayor Kathy Moore said the current system also restricts who can operating a short-term rental in the city.
“There was talk about how the current process of setting up a short-term rental is unfair,” said Moore.
“That’s because the city only allows one short-term rental per block and the first person who puts in their application can keep it forever. We couldn’t really solve this issue during the meeting.”
Council has instructed staff to review other short-term rental fees and compare them to other cities in the West Kootenay.
The TRF and MRDT fees are anticipated to be eliminated in Rossland on Jan. 1, 2021.