LINCOLN COUNTY — Cities in Lincoln County are beginning to get a clearer picture of the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the tourism industry this summer.
Data regarding transient lodging tax revenue owed to municipalities is starting to come in for the third quarter — the months of July, August and September — the height of the area’s tourist season. And it appears the financial hit restrictions placed open vacation rentals during the pandemic wasn’t as severe as some forecasters predicted.
“We don’t have all our numbers in just yet, but at first glance, I feel like it’s not going to be as bad as it could have been,” Lincoln City Finance Director Debbie Bridges said. “I really think it probably could’ve been a whole lot worse.”
Since October 2013, the state has required transient lodging providers (vacation rental, hotel/motel/resort owners) to collect and remit tax money to state and local jurisdictions based on the total retail price paid for lodging occupancy. As of July 1, lodging providers are required to charge 1.5 percent in transient lodging tax money directed to the state to help fund Oregon Tourism Commission programs.
The state legislature directs 20 percent of that revenue to a regional cooperative tourism program and an additional 10 percent to a competitive grants program.
Cities in Lincoln County rely heavily on the transient lodging tax revenue, and they set their own room tax rates. Depoe Bay’s rate is 8 percent, while Lincoln City’s is 9 percent, Newport’s is 9.5 percent, Waldport and unincorporated Lincoln County are at 10 percent and Yachats’ rate is 7 percent.
For the third quarter of 2020, Depoe Bay is receiving a total of $311,891.12 in transient lodging tax revenue. In 2019, Depoe Bay’s third quarter room tax revenue was $315,668.23. That means this year’s third-quarter total is $3,777.11 less than last year’s third-quarter total.
Last year, Depoe Bay received a yearlong transient lodging tax total of $924,940.82. Through three quarters this year, Depoe Bay is receiving $551,524.98 in room tax revenue.
The greatest discrepancy between last year and this year’s transient lodging tax revenue for Depoe Bay occurred during the second quarter, the months of April, May and June. In 2019, Depoe Bay records state the city received $221,003.80 in room tax revenue. That number shrunk to just $68,445.83 for the 2020 second quarter, a difference of $152,557.97.
The city of Newport is in a similar situation to that of Depoe Bay. According to data provided by Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel, the city received $318,998.18 less in room tax revenue during July and August 2020 than it did last year for the same period.
During July and August 2019, Newport received nearly $1.29 million in lodging tax revenue. This year, Newport received $499,203.80 in July and $468,129.67 in August for a total of $967,333.47.
April was the toughest month for Newport’s transient lodging tax revenue collection this year. In 2019, Newport received $309,447.07 from transient lodging taxes. That number was only $36,841.57 this April, a difference of $272,605.50.
Through August, Newport had received $2,052,566.22 in revenue derived from transient lodging taxes. From January through August 2019, the city received $3,159,063.41, a difference of more than $1.1 million.