Tucked on the shores of Lake Erie smack in the center of Ohio’s northern border, Erie County is home to nearly 80,000 residents. This area features a lovely stretch of shoreline dotted with small beach towns, nature preserves, wineries, and waterpark resorts. Just a short ferry ride away, you’ll find yourself on Kelleys Island, a historic destination perfect for exploration by bike and family camping. But perhaps Erie County is best known for Cedar Point. This theme park attracts millions of thrill seekers each year. Boasting 71 spine-tingling rollercoasters, Cedar Point is frequently ranked as one of the best theme parks in the world.
Bustling Lake Erie County benefits heavily from the tourist trade, taking in nearly two billion annually. However, even though the area has a well-developed leisure economy, as regulations and markets have changed, it has proven difficult to monitor and monetize the entire landscape.
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In 2018, the Erie County Commissioner’s office passed new legislation that changed how the County needed to collect lodging taxes. While the municipality had always collected from hotel-motel operators, now the statue mandated remittance from short-term rental hosts as well. And this presented a real issue for the auditor’s office.
Erie County really didn’t know how many short-term rental properties is had within its boundaries. Erie County’s Chief Fiscal Officer Brenda Hurst expands, “Once we started looking [for short-term rental listings] and speaking to our smaller cities and townships, we realized that we probably had many more short-term rental properties than we knew about.”
But even more than not fully understanding the depth and breadth of its short-term rental landscape, Erie County didn’t even have an automated method for hosts to register and remit taxes. What hosts the County did know about were required to download a paper form, cut and mail paper checks—or haul down to a government office to wait in line. Then employees would have to devote extra time to processing checks, sending out paper receipts, and then manually entering data into a hefty Excel spreadsheet. Every tax payment came with an administrative cost that ate into funds which should have been going into community coffers.
Like many municipalities, Erie County wanted to adapt to a more consumer-centric service model. Taxpayer constituents are used to an online world, from banking to shopping and beyond, but the municipality was stuck decades behind. Civic leaders find their time stretched and budgets pinched—which can make it really tough to adopt the latest in cloud-computing tools, no matter how much they’d like to.
Erie County knew the best approach was to find a partner who truly understood this predicament, had a demonstrable track record of integrity and impact, and could provide the training and service required. Hurst and her team developed a list of requirements before conducting their search, and that list included strong reporting tools, robust onboarding procedures, and a true spirit of customer care. “Other vendors promised certain features, but when it came down to the demo, they weren’t true to their word,” Hurst reflects. Disappointed, her team pressed on.
During their search, Hurst and the team realized that Localgov’s online tax-remittance platform had all of the features they needed. Not only does Localgov offer significant benefits to a municipality, Hurst also realized that our tools connect taxpayers with a contemporary and convenience user experience. She felt confident that Localgov was the right choice for Erie County.
Only Localgov is able to offer Erie County the flexible tax-remittance platform they’d been looking for. Our team was able to customize our offering to meet Erie County’s specific hospitality tax needs. For example, Erie County collects hospitality tax, but select municipalities have also levy their own hotel taxes. Localgov allows taxpayers to use just one form and a few clicks and remit payments to both the County and municipalities at the same time. Tax dollars are quickly transmitted to the right jurisdiction—no staff time needed.
Localgov is known for a customer-centric approach to municipal technology. We are happy to customize solutions for local governments and work closely with municipal employees to ensure satisfaction.
The Erie County implementation process went smoothly and staff worked closely with our customer-care team. “[Localgov] took a lot of time to talk to us and hear all our needs during on-site training for staff. They were willing to work with us and really understand our needs, “ says Hurst. “And they also provided onboarding assistance for our taxpayers, too, which saved our staff time,” she adds. It’s this kind of close relationship-building that is unique to Localgov over other providers.
Erie County taxpayers are reporting high levels of satisfaction with Localgov’s user-friendly tools. No more stamps or lines, now short-term rental hosts can stay compliant with less time and fewer fines. This streamlined process has caught on within Erie County and more jurisdictions are asking to join the program. Erie County and participating municipalities now enjoy quicker, more consistent remittance from taxpayers directly into its bank account. This has resulted in more streamlined fiscal management while also reducing staff time spent assisting taxpayers.
But Localgov’s team has continued to grow its relationship with Erie County. “Since the launch, we’ve had several follow-up calls to see how things are going and to find ways to improve the customer experience. I would highly recommend Localgov,” Hurst adds.
To us, that’s a ringing endorsement we’re proud to champion.
We’d love to help your community experience benefits like Erie County and its municipalities have.
Learn how Localgov can integrate into your system and offer your municipality the benefits of a consumer-style remittance tool, staff and taxpayer customer service, and powerful reporting tools.
Instead of waiting weeks while paper payments get processed and deposited, Erie County and its municipalities get near-instant access direct to funds.
An easy-to-use filing & payment platform allows business taxpayers to get current quickly, saving time and money from late fees.
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