Four-percent lodging tax increase enacted for county

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A 4-percent increase in Pike County’s lodging tax has been passed by the Legislature and approved by the governor.

The increase comes after commissioners and Troy City officials worked together to present a proposal to state lawmakers for the local-private legislation.

Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, told commissioners and city officials that until an agreement was reached on the increase, the likelihood of one passing was slim to none. But after both governments reached an agreement this year, Boothe endorsed the legislation.

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“This was at the request of the county and city government,” Boothe said. “They were able to get together and asked that we sponsor this legislation. They got their request. I have a letter form the city and a unanimous resolution from the county so that’s what we as legislators are here for.”

The county had originally proposed the 4-percent increase with 1 percent going to each the City of Troy and City of Brundidge and the remaining 2 percent allocated to the county. The consensus legislation that passed allocates 2 percent to the county and the remaining 2 percent to the municipality in which the lodging establishments are located. Currently, all hotels and motels are located in the City of Troy.

Commission Administrator Harry Sanders said the agreement exemplifies how a good working relationship between city and county officials is needed and how well government can work when officials cooperate together.

“The benefit of this bill is for all of the people and citizens of the county,” Sanders said. “The revenue is needed and the revenue will do some good for the county, but there is no doubt that even more important than the revenue is the relationship between the city and the county government. Right now, our relationship is strong, and that is exemplified in the agreement the city and county were able to reach.”

Sanders said the agreement was beneficial to both parties involved.

“This is an example of a genuine and mutually beneficial partnership between the cities of Pike County and the County Commission,” Sanders said. “The Pike County Commission always works to produce a positive result for the people of Pike County that they all serve.”

Boothe said this was one of the few bills he saw pass during this legislative season.

“As long as the city and county are OK with it, I’ll be OK with it,” Boothe said. “We did have to pass a tax increase, but it all goes along with the territory. You can’t run scared when you’re in need of funds. You have to do what you’ve got to do.”

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves echoed both Boothe’s and Sanders’ sentiments, saying that while new taxes weren’t always welcome they were sometimes a necessary evil.

“While we are never excited about new taxes, we understood their need for additional revenues,” Reeves said. “Once we agreed to that where there would be a sharing of the proceeds, we agreed to allow the process to move forward. We will certainly use the proceeds that the lodging tax generates to try and produce additional people to come and visit our area. We want to invest the tax dollars from the new taxes that will flow to city back in ways that will increase visitors and lodgers to our area.”

Reeves said being able to have an open line of communication between city and municipal governments is always welcome.

“Any time the city and the county can cooperate, it benefits both entities to have an open line of communication,” Reeves said. “We appreciate the ability of working together for the benefit of all of the county. We certainly want to be reasonable and work with the county in anyway we can.”