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Localgov Client Spotlight

Erie County: Short-Term Rental Administration

Brenda Hurst
Chief Fiscal Officer
Auditor's Office of Erie County, Ohio

Erie County, Ohio is a vacation destination located on the shores of Lake Erie that welcomes millions of visitors each year to relax, play and explore all the area has to offer.

From the thrills of Cedar Point Amusement Park to the tranquility of Kelleys Island, and everything in between, the fifteen municipalities that comprise Erie County have something for everyone.

Erie County's Challenge: Registering and Collecting Tax for Short-Term Rentals

In late 2018, the Erie County Commissioner's office passed new legislation that required the County to not only collect lodging tax from hotels (which it was previously doing) but also from short-term rental property owners. This posed a serious challenge to the Auditor's Office since they didn't know how many short-term rentals they had within their jurisdiction nor did they have any way to have hosts register and pay taxes on their rental properties.

Brenda Hurst, the Chief Fiscal Officer of Erie County's Auditor's Office, explains, "the main obstacle was not knowing the volume that we would be having. We had no idea how many short-term rentals we had within our county. The more we got looking, the more we started talking to our smaller cities and townships, it sounded like it was going to be a pretty good size amount. So that was the hard part, not knowing what to expect or how much going forward."

Our taxpayers are very happy to use Localgov. It is really user-friendly, and they enjoy doing their payments online. They don't need to put a stamp on an envelope or walk into our office anymore."

Brenda Hurst
Chief Fiscal Officer
Erie County, OH

Erie County Partners with Localgov

Short on time and internal resources, Erie County began a search for a vendor that could deliver an automated solution to address their needs. After interviewing several firms, Erie County chose Localgov as their partner.

Hurst recalls her experience:

"Some of the other software vendors said they could produce reports or provide certain features but when it came down to seeing their demos, they weren't true to their word. When we looked at the Localgov features and reporting, and got to communicate with their staff, that really made the difference because they were willing to work with us. It was great. It really streamlined everything, and we were able to get rid of our manual system."

Before implementing Localgov, Erie County manually collected lodging tax forms and checks from hotel owners which resulted in an additional cost for the County. Hurst continues, "Taxpayers would go to our website, download the form, manually fill it out, throw a check in there and mail it. Once we got it a couple days later, we'd have to manually receipt it and put it in Excel."

The staff took a lot of time to talk to us and hear all our needs. The onsite training and assistance for on boarding our taxpayers was fabulous. I would highly recommend Localgov."

Brenda Hurst
Chief Fiscal Officer
Erie County, OH

Localgov Brings Additional Benefits to Erie County

Since launching Localgov in January, Erie County employees and end-users alike have enjoyed the benefits of the new streamlined process and more jurisdictions are asking to join the program.

Hurst reflects on Localgov's performance:

"I would say number one: our taxpayers are very happy to use Localgov. It is really user-friendly and they enjoy doing their payments online. They don't need to put a stamp on an envelope or walk into our office anymore. And we're happy because the payments just show up in our bank account and the revenue keeps coming in. The phone calls have decreased over time as well because the system automatically calculates their tax and that has made all the difference."

As municipalities continue to struggle with the short-term rental dilemma and look for ways to enforce compliance, municipalities such as Erie County have found the right partner to deliver value, simplicity and support to their community.

Hurst continues, "our overall experience has been very positive. The staff took a lot of time to talk to us and hear all our needs. The onsite training and assistance for on boarding our taxpayers was fabulous. Since the launch, there have been several follow up calls just to check in and see how things are going or to find ways to improve the customer experience. I would highly recommend Localgov."

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