Bath County Moving Forward with Short-Term Rental Ordinance
At the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 10th, there was a public hearing held on a proposed ordinance to require short-term rental operators to register within 30 days with the commissioner of the revenue to allow for assessment and payment of transient occupancy taxes. This ordinance was first brought to the Board of Supervisors at their February 11th meeting.
Operator- means the proprietor of any dwelling, lodging, or sleeping accommodations offered on a short-term rental. Short-term Rental means the provision of a room or space that is suitable or intended for occupancy for dwelling, sleeping, or lodging purposes, for a period of less than 30 consecutive days in exchange for a charge for the occupancy.
As presently written, there would be a 10 dollar annual registration fee and a 250 dollar civil penalty for failure to register. Operators would have to register every year. If an operator violates this article 3 or more times as it relates to a specific property, the operator shall be barred from offering such premises for short-term rental upon receiving a written notice from the Commissioner of the Revenue or the County Administrator for Bath County.
Angel Grimm, who is the Commissioner of the Revenue, said the ordinance would be a took for her office to use to collect all the occupancy tax that should be coming to the county. She said she wouldn’t mind if there was no registration fee, but felt that there does need to be a penalty for not registering.
Lynn Ellen Black, whose family operates a rental, shared she thinks most short-term rental operators already pay the tax as they should and thinks the county should attempt to work with those who don’t before enforcing the registry requirement. She also said if operators have to register, they should only have to do it one time.
Vine Cottage Inn owner, Tammy Hahn said quote, “I ask for a level playing field for all lodging establishments” unquote. Grimm said she also wants a level playing field, stating that her and her staff try to monitor the web sites such as Airbnb to see where rentals are, but doesn’t always have the time. She shared that every time she or her staff looks at one of these sites, there are always more.
County Administrator, Ashton Harrison, recommended the board tabling this vote until next month. The board didn’t have to vote on this during this meeting, so action on the proposed ordinance is scheduled for April.
For AMR News, I’m Abby Dufour