Printer Friendly Version

Village Vision News

Hotel/motel tax suspended by Village Board vote

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On Feb. 6, trustees suspended Forsyth’s 3 percent hotel/motel tax with a 4-2 vote. Before casting “no” votes, trustees Steve Hubbard and Larry Reed joined a lengthy Board discussion that drew comments from the audience, including one from Leo Moreland of 765 Schroll Court, who said that it is “…difficult to give up a revenue stream that has no useful purpose.”

Mayor Hap Gilbert said there were “…a lot of opportunities we haven’t taken” and asked trustees before the vote to delay a decision until a representative from the state could come to the Village either March 19 or April 2 to expand upon ideas on how to spend the tax monies, including activities with the mall. Village Administrator Heather Kimmons provided a note to trustees just prior to the meeting with information that Jan Kemmerling, the state’s local tourism division manager, would be available on either of those dates to discuss the issue. Kimmons also advised trustees that, from a legal perspective “…there appears to be no serious concern about jeopardizing the Village’s right to reinstate the [hotel/motel] tax should it be reduced, suspended or discontinued.” The tax suspension becomes effective Apr. 30.

Trustees had recently started a discussion on the wisdom of suspending the tax, at least temporarily, in light of the nearly $400,000 in surplus revenue already collected. At the Jan. 17 Board meeting, trustees Bob Rasho and Eric Morr, voiced support for suspending the tax. Mayor Hap Gilbert opposed the suspension, calling it “a bad idea.” Morr later said he is interested “…in keeping the annual spending [of about $100,000] the same or making reasonable increases.” Morr charged the mayor with “…looking for more ways to spend the extra money” and declared that the Village’s spending level is adequate. Morr favored “…reducing the income to balance the equation and not increase spending” while the mayor says there has “…been resistance on the Board not to spend the [hotel/motel tax] money on promotions.” State funding for the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (DACVB), which was termed “an economic engine for our community” by developer/hotel owner Steve Horve, could drop if the Village were to disturb the amount of hotel/motel tax revenue it currently collects, according to the mayor. In the past, the DACVB has been credited with helping to fill the hotels/motels by attracting an array of events to the area. The DACVB had asked the Village to consider information provided by the state’s tourism bureau before reaching any decision on altering Forsyth’s tax structure. However, a meeting scheduled for Jan. 20 was unexpectedly canceled by the bureau and attempts to quickly reschedule with or obtain written information from other representatives of the bureau were unsuccessful, according to Kimmons.

Shortly prior to the Board’s vote, the issue of the Village’s hotel/motel tax was a component in conversations between Kimmons and Hickory Point Mall management about the mall’s struggle to attract new businesses to fill vacant mall storefronts. Kimmons suggested that the hotel/motel tax monies could potentially assist in this endeavor and further suggested the Village explore partnering with the mall to increase its appeal to both businesses and consumers. “The mall is what originally put us ‘on the map,’” Kimmons said. “We shouldn't lose sight of that.”

^ Back to Top ^

Site by HomeSight, LLC