EDA To Propose Highland Hotel/Motel Tax
Monterey, VA – Twenty-five Virginia counties, including Highland County, impose no hotel/motel tax – but a local group wants to change that.
The Highland Economic Development Authority (EDA) is preparing a proposal to present to the Board of Supervisors, requesting that the Supervisors institute a two-percent hotel/motel tax, with a stipulation that tax proceeds be provided to the Chamber of Commerce and used for tourism development.
Out of 96 counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, 71 counties impose a hotel/motel tax, ranging between two and eight percent. State law allows all counties to impose a two-percent tax, which is added to hotel and motel room rates. Supervisors can use tax proceeds for any purpose they see fit.
During a meeting Monday night at the Highland Center in Monterey, the EDA tourism committee discussed how to justify the tax to the Board of Supervisors. Committee chairperson Carolyn Pohowski said the tax would generate between $8-10,000 annually. The Supervisors currently provide $10,000 to the Chamber, every year, and the tax proceeds would be added to that.
Pohowski says the tax is needed to help Chamber director Tiffany White pay for current tourism programs.
“The $8,000 is not $8,000 to do something new with,” she said. “The $8,000, we’re looking at right now, is to keep all the stuff that Tiffany’s doing in the office going. Postage, everything is going up. The cost of everything is going up. The money that’s coming into the Chamber is not going up. The costs keep going up. The amount of money that’s coming into the Chamber is stagnant, for the most part. We’re just trying to keep heads above water, at this point.”
Liz Delahoussaye says the tax could help pay for what is now volunteer work at the Chamber.
‘The problems have been that, historically, there’s been an awful lot of volunteer work done out of the Chamber office,” she said. “The part that hasn’t been volunteer-done has been grossly underpaid.”
Dan Kaufman notes the committee has spent time planning several new initiatives, but won’t be able to fund them.
“I’m just confused because it seem like we’ve been talking all night long about all these initiatives to create new business for the county,” he said. Then, all of a sudden, we’re down to the tax and the money we’re already getting is just to keep our head above water.”
Donna Bedwell says the additional money would likely provide for limited growth.
“To not grow is to fail,” she said. “What you’re asking for, with additional funds, is to enable growth. It may not be substantial, huge growth.”
The committee is planning to present a hotel/motel tax proposal to the Board of Supervisors, in time to be approved for next fiscal, which begins July 1.
In other business, the EDA tourism committee reviewed minor changes to the rough draft of a strategic tourism plan.