Printer Friendly Version

Village Vision News

Village brings back hotel tax

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rate of 3 percent takes effect September 1

The Forsyth Board of Trustees has decided the time has come to bring back the hotel/motel tax. After some brief discussion at its Aug. 19 meeting, the motion carried by a vote of 4-1.

Perhaps due to the fact that the topic has been part of previous agendas in recent weeks, it turned out that some straightforward and low-key give-and-take was all that preceded the vote. The lone dissenting vote came from Trustee Bob Rasho.

The tax, which is on overnight hotel stays, is set to resume Sept. 1 at the rate of 3 percent, which was the previous rate last year before the decision was made to suspend the tax. The money will primarily be used to promote tourism and to attract overnight visitors to the village to make use of its hotels, restaurants and shopping attractions.

Rasho, who had been integral to the suspension of the tax in March of 2012, maintained his opposition to reinstatement. Rasho has said all along that his objection to the tax stems from his belief that collecting a tax and stockpiling a surplus without specific plans for the best way to use the money is not the most efficient way to conduct the village’s business.

Despite a new and more detailed plan produced by village staff outlining how to manage and use the funds the tax generates, Rasho’s position remained unchanged.

Trustee Dave Wendt had made the point previously that such planning would only be made easier once it is known what funds are coming in from the tax.

In his last pitch to fellow board members, just prior to the vote, Rasho recommended that they consider starting small at a lesser rate of 1.5 percent.

“If we start at 1.5 percent … let’s start small,” Rasho said, adding that the community could still meet its commitments and retain a balance in the fund. Rasho said it would give the board time to determine the best way to use the money going forward. He said it would be possible to adjust the rate later if needed: “And then, we can take it up from there (if necessary),” he said.

Mayor Marilyn Johnson and Trustee Steve Hubbard got the discussion started by repeating their positions in favor of bringing the tax back.

“I’m not a tennis player. I don’t have a kid who will play on Diamond No. 1, but these things enhance everyone’s life,” Hubbard said, referring to part of the planned uses for the fund. “Maybe the next CEO of ADM, he or she, will be a tennis player and build in Forsyth.”

Five places to stay
Once all local new hotel development is complete over the next year or so, including expansion of the Homewood Suites and the addition of the new Residence Inn, below is the total number of available hotel rooms projected at Forsyth’s five hotels.

  • Fairfield Inn 62
  • Hampton Inn 61
  • Homewood Suites 103
  • Quality Inn 56
  • Residence Inn 96
  • Total rooms 378

The plan also calls for upgrades to park facilities. The ordinance reads in part that “the tax can be utilized to promote tourism and conventions within the village or otherwise to attract non-resident visitors to the village.”

There are also plans to coordinate promotional efforts with the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to market Forsyth more effectively as a destination for tourists.

Trustee Bob Gruenewald, before the vote was taken, stated his position that he supported reinstating the tax. He went on to compliment village staff members for their efforts in putting together what he termed was “a forward-looking plan.”

After offering his opinion that 3 percent was not an excessive rate, Hubbard said, “With that, I’d like to make a motion to reinstate at 3 percent ASAP.” The motion was seconded by Wendt.

And so, “Approval of Ordinance No. 888 reinstating the hotel/motel tax,” as it was officially written on the evening’s agenda, was passed with very little drama or mystery.


^ Back to Top ^

Site by HomeSight, LLC