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Value of monitoring short-term rentals questioned

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

SUAMICO – The recent announcement about the Green Bay Area Room Tax Commission signing a 12-month contract with Bear Cloud Software/STR Helper to provide services to local municipalities for online identification and monitoring of short-term rental housing isn’t receiving a ringing endorsement from the Suamico village board.

Residential rentals, which are sometimes known as “party houses,” can include houses listed for rent on websites such as Airbnb or VRBO that will be monitored under the agreement to assist municipalities in the oversight of licensing, health inspections and the collection of room tax as required by local ordinances.

Dan Roddan

Trustee Dan Roddan said it would be interesting to know who is or isn’t renting houses, “but I don’t think we exactly need to place ordinances against it or require room tax.”

“I really don’t feel it’s even our business,” he said.

Trustee Sky Van Rossum questioned who would be responsible for collecting room taxes from those found in an online search not to be in compliance.

“If we’re in support of this software, and this software identifies the number of residences that are VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or whatever it might be and there’s applicable room taxes to it, is Brown County going to be looking to the village of Suamico to enforce that with our residents, or is Brown County going to enforce that?” he asked.

Sky Van Rossum

For the minimal amount of revenue the county would receive for the village to enforce compliance with paying room tax, Van Rossum said the village would be “doing Big Brother’s dirty work.”

see the value in us doing this,” he said.

Suamico’s director of administrative services, Jessica Legois, said the village currently collects room taxes, “however, we have only one facility that pays on a regular basis, sometimes two.”

Oversight of short-term residential rentals, such as in close proximity to Lambeau Field, became a concern following a change included last year in the biennial state budget, after which municipalities can no longer outright prohibit such rentals of more than seven days.

But because Suamico isn’t adjacent to Lambeau Field, Village President Laura Nelson said the one time those rentals became an issue was in 2016 when there was a college football game in Green Bay between Wisconsin and Louisiana State University.

Laura Nelson

“If people want to rent out their house, it’s just an exception at this point,” Nelson said. “We don’t do it on a regular basis.”

The Greater Green Bay Lodging Association agreed to fund the $10,500 for the STR Helper monitoring in the first 12 months through the room tax commission, which is comprised of members from various municipalities and the lodging association in the Green Bay area.

The commission has sought to better identify short-term residential rentals going on in the area following the change in state law.

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