Washington County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a 3 percent hotel tax, which will go into effect on May 1. Revenue generated from the tax will go to the Marietta/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, according to the commissioners.
“This is a tax that is collected from the visitor,” said Kelly Blazosky, executive director of the bureau. “This is not a tax on the business or property owner at all.”
Blazosky said the money will go to promoting tourism throughout the area. The completion of the Corridor D freeway this year will potentially mean more people coming through the county as well as several new housing developments, she said. Having additional dollars in the tourism bureau would help market the area to potential visitors.
“It’s an economic development tool,” Blazosky said. “With the potential development around State Route 618, it is important to go ahead and have a tax in place in preparation for developers to potentially build in the area.”
The tax will not affect hotels in Belpre and Marietta which are already taxed through those cities.
“This would only affect areas that do not currently have a bed tax,” said Commissioner John Grimes. “Marietta collects a 6 percent tax.”
In 2007, the bed tax in Marietta generated $249,024 for the bureau. The tax is split with 40 percent going to the bureau and 60 percent going to Marietta’s general fund. The bureau had a total income of $337,180 in 2007 according to its profit and loss budget overview.
Blazosky said they don’t yet have an estimate on how much the county bed tax will bring in.
Seven properties in the county will be affected: A Cabin on the Hill and the Aldeco Motel in New Matamoras; the Bramble Creek Bed and Breakfast, the Washington Motel and The Cottage at Wind Swept in Little Hocking; the Lakeside Motel in Beverly; and the Reno Motel.
“I don’t think it would have done us any good to have any opposition,” said Jackie Leberth, the innkeeper at the Bramble Creek Bed and Breakfast.
Leberth said she felt the decision had already been made by the time the hotels were contacted and hotel owners were not asked their opinion on the matter.
“We are not enthusiastic about anything that is going to raise our expenses,” Leberth said. “We do wish we would have had the opportunity to have some conversation about it. There was a meeting held to inform us about our responsibilities on the matter, but I was not able to make it.”
Grimes said a public meeting on the issue had been scheduled for Feb. 20, but was canceled due to the death of his son that day. Another meeting was not scheduled, but Grimes said the start date for collection of the tax was delayed from April 1 to May 1 to allow anyone with questions or concerns to contact commissioners.
He said the tax had first been discussed more than a year ago and commissioners wanted to get the tax established by the end of the first quarter.
Blazosky said the proceeds from the tax will help bring in tourists to the area and increase the business of the hotels.
“We’ll be helping to market their properties more thoroughly,” she said.
Leberth said she feels the convention and visitors bureau already does a fabulous job of promoting local tourist attractions and didn’t think any additional funding was needed.
Bill Parks, owner of the Aldeco Motel, said he had not heard of plans for the tax until being asked about it Tuesday. However, he said he does not handle most of the day-to-day operations of the motel.
“Where is the stopping point?” he said. “The federal government and the state is constantly trying to figure out ways to get money from us working people.”
Grimes said many communities have such a tax in place.
“If we go out of town anywhere, we’re charged a bed tax for the locale we stay in,” he said.
Fact BoxAbout the bed tax
¯ It will add a 3 percent tax for stays at hotels not currently taxed by the cities of Belpre and Marietta.
¯ It will affect seven motels in Washington County.