At tonight's City Council Meeting I was struck by the debate surrounding the raising of the Hotel/Motel Room tax from 4% to 6%. When the proposal was offered, Councilors Alcombright and Blackmer suggested that, because of the short notice of putting this tax on the agenda, it should go to the finance committee where the businesses affected by it could publicly comment. This seemed eminently reasonable to me.
The mayor and those councilors who always agree with him argued that because the tax can only be implemented at the beginning of a quarter, this delay would cause the tax to be put off until January 1, 2010 instead of beginning on October first of this year. The mayor projected that the city would lose $5000 a month in revenue if it were delayed by the committee looking into the proposal.
But what really got me, was that the mayor seemed to suggest that The Porches and Jae's Inn had already received great tax breaks in the past from the city, so hitting them with a new tax on short notice was completely justified. Also, he suggested that the fact that because no businesses had called him in the past week regarding this tax was evidence that the proprietors of these businesses did not consider the tax to be potentially detrimental to business.
While I am all for making money off of tourists, I do think that the businesses affected should at least be invited to give input. To dismiss this suggestion as somehow trivial bothers me a lot. The Porches, Holiday Inn and Jae's help pump millions of dollars into the local economy every year. They deserve a tad bit more respect.