County lodging tax opposed

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

Several Troy hotel owners told the Pike County Commission Monday they were opposed to the implementation of a new county lodging tax.

“It would be hard to put a dollar amount, but of course it will have a negative impact for sure,” said Dennis Patel, manager of the Super 8 Motel. “I manage Super 8, and I lose customer’s every day over a dollar.”

County Attorney Allen Jones told commissioners most of the hotel owners he’s talked to locally would be opposed to a lodging tax, for fears competitors from other cities would draw in their business with lower rates.

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“I know most owners I’ve talked to would gladly say, ‘I don’t want it,’ because it would cause an increase in their rates,” Jones said.

Based on information gathered from local owners, Jones said the county could be looking at at approximate revenue of around $110,000 with a 2 percent lodging tax. This was approximated with an average occupancy of 250 rooms per night and rates of around $60, Jones said.

If another hotel is built, Jones said the revenues could increase to $145,000.

District 1 Commissioner Homer Wright said the lodging tax would be a way to generate revenue without burdening Pike County residents.

“I’m looking at it so we won’t have to tax the local folks,” Wright said.

Patel said, however, when people rent a hotel room, it’s all about the bottom rate.

“We do pass those burdens to the customers, but at the same time people go on line and look at rates,” Patel said. “The customer’s going to look at that bottom number. They don’t care who gets what.”

The city of Troy charges a hotel lodging tax of 4 percent . There is also a 4 percent state tax. Jones said this is competitive with Ozark’s 8 percent total but more than Enterprise’s 6 percent total.

Commissioners did not take any action on the lodging tax issue Monday, and it will remain on the commission agenda.

The commission also approved their sales tax appropriations for the upcoming budget year, adding two new agencies to the list.

The Pike County RSVP and the Pike Animal Shelter each were allotted $2,500 from the $150,000 sales tax fund that only can be granted to local organizations or agencies.

In other business, District 4 Commissioner Ray Goodson told commissioners he wants to develop an ambulance board to address complaints and compliments of the ambulance service in Pike County.

“I feel like it would be beneficial to the county because they could report to us about the ambulance,” Goodson said.

In other action, the County Commission:

-accepted the resignation of Felix Tyrone Jackson from the road department.

-awarded annual bids for the road department.

-approved to lower the speed limit of County Road 3350 from 25 to 15 mph.

-approved to renew the contracts with both the Department of Youth Services and Lee County Detention Facility.

-authorized participation in a National Purchasing Program that could reduce costs for the county.

-agreed to advertise three vacancies in the Probate Office.

-approved to send out proposals for two new Sheriff’s vehicles and one for the animal control department, two items that were already approved in next year’s budget.

-discussed an increase in the landfill amount, which was not set by the commission. It will raise bills by 63 cents for county residents.

-discussed a proposal to use two Pike County busses as convert busses to carry stretchers in emergency situations.

-moved their next meeting to Monday, Oct. 6 since their regular scheduled date is a holiday.