County discussing lodging tax

Published 9:42 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

In search for a new revenue source for the county, Pike County Commissioners plan to learn more about implementing a hotel lodging tax in their meeting Monday.

Representatives from local hotels are on the agenda to attend the commission work session and give input on how a lodging tax could impact their business, said County Administrator Harry Sanders.

Days Inn Hotel Owner Hasu Mistry said he is not certain what his view of the lodging tax is, but his customers already find the current taxes too high.

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“When I tell my customers it’s 8 percent right now, they just go ‘Wow’,” Mistry said. “If we add another 1 to 2 percent it might scare more customers.”

The Commission began discussing a lodging tax in July, and they have put off taking any action to hear more information.

“We don’t really have a lot of information on that,” said District 1 Commissioner Homer Wright, who first proposed the local lodging tax.

Previously though, Wright said a lodging tax may be a way to generate funding without placing the burden on Pike County’s residents.

Even if commissioners did choose to move forward with a lodging tax proposal, they would not have sole authority in its implementation.

“A piece of legislature would have to be drafted by them and turned over to me and Alan Boothe,” said Sen. Wendall Mitchell (D-Luverne). “We would present it to the legislature for approval, and it would give the commission the authority to act.”

Mitchell said the law would not necessarily require a referendum, but the commission could choose to let Pike County residents vote for or against the tax.

The next legislative session is set to begin Feb. 3, so that is the soonest this proposal could begin to be approved, if the commission decides to pursue it.

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling said the city already has a 4 percent lodging tax on its hotels.

Starling said Troy did not have to follow a similar process to impose this tax.

“The city of Troy has a home rule on all taxes and legislations in the city of Troy,” Starling said. “The county is different in they have to go to the people.”