Tifton Gazette

Local News

January 8, 2013

City raises hotel/motel tax one percent

TIFTON — Several concerned hotel/motel owners of the Tift Area Hospitality Association (TAHA) and members of the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association attended the Tifton City Council regular meeting Monday evening in response to the council potentially voting for an increase to the excise tax on rooms, lodgings and accommodations.

After much discussion, the council eventually agreed to an one percent increase in the tax.

The matter began at a November workshop/called meeting, the council discussed the hotel/motel tax in full details. The Gazette reported in a recent article that according to City Attorney Rob Wilmot, the hotel/motel money has to be spent by the Tourism Board within the fiscal year (contract period — July 1 through June 30, 2013). Any unexpended money is reported to the city. Wilmot had noted that the city is liable for how the money is spent by the Tourism Board; funds must be spent appropriately according to the law.

Currently, there’s a five percent hotel/motel tax (two percent goes to the Tourism Association and three percent goes to the city) and a seven percent sales tax — 12 percent tax total. The maximum the council can raise the hotel/motel tax is three percent.

During a public hearing that was held before the meeting, Wilmot briefly went over the hotel/motel tax increase. He explained to the crowd that the council wants to raise the current five percent tax to eight percent, which will go towards enhancing tourism.

No one spoke in favor of the tax increase; however, several citizens did speak against it. Harold Harper, who owns the local Howard Johnson (used to be Motel 6), spoke first.

He told the council that he recently changed his flag and wants to get started back up again. However, he stated that a hotel/motel tax increase is “going to hurt us.”

He explained to the council that the local hotels and motels have helped raised a large amount in taxes, and tourism here has grown. He said this shows that they’re doing good and the current tax of five percent should remain.

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