Wright seeks lodging tax

Published 11:31 pm Thursday, May 15, 2014

County Commission Chairman Homer Wright has come up with an idea to fund the renovation of the Rock Building. He would like to see the county collect a percentage of lodging taxes. At least a portion of that new revenue would go towards projects like the Rock.
The City of Troy collects 4 percent of the charge for lodging in hotels, motels, inns, camps, rooming houses and cabins within city limits. For Pike County to collect any portion of the lodging taxes already in place, the City Council would have to pass a resolution to share it.
Council members have said that would never happen. All hotels are within city limits. Wright reasoned that the hotels were also in Pike County.
He said it is not unheard of for cities to share lodging revenue with the county. He cited Greenville as an example. But, Wright is not asking for a piece of the City’s pie. He wants a pie of his own.
“It is not going to cost you anything,” he said.
The expense would be passed on to mostly out-of-town guests. Wright did not see where an additional $5 or $10 would keep anyone visiting Troy from renting a room. He said visitors would spend more in gas, commuting from a hotel outside the county than they would on his proposed tax.
In order to add a lodging tax specifically for the County, commissioners would have to go through the same process as with the draft beer service law. They would need the support of local government and a state representative willing to introduce the bill.
Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said commissioners had not approached him about the issue, but he would take it under consideration if they did.
“I certainly support trying to do something about the Rock Building. I’d need more details and I’m sure Commissioner Wright will reach out to us on that,” he said.
State Representative Alan Boothe said a tax increase would not be a popular bill – even for a landmark like the Rock Building. And any efforts for funding renovations are premature.
“I think they need to do their due diligence finding out what the people want and what the uses of the building would be,” he said. “There may be grants available. It may already be on the National Register of historic places.”
The building sits in Councilwoman Dejerilyn Henderson’s district. She recalled working in the building as a secretary for the Board of Education.
Henderson said she would like to see the building used as a venue for parties and receptions, similar to The Studio.
“If you build it, they will come,” she said.

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