By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
With only a few months left until the city gets its first installment of revenue from the newly approved hotel/motel tax, members of the hotel/motel tax committee are working on how to use the additional proceeds to benefit Washington.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that soon the committee will take a recommendation to the Washington City Council regarding hiring a consultant to determine the best way to use the tax money. He said the committee has received three proposals for marketing assistance and the committee has chosen one of the firms to move ahead with further talks. He said the plan is to invite members of the firm in to meet with the committee to ensure the firm would be a good match and that goals were aligned.
?What we will end up doing with the money is develop a marketing plan with significant stakeholder input,? Hinson said. ?It?s not just going to be the fund administration committee that comes up with the ideas and it isn?t going to be the marketing consultant. Its going to be engaging all the stakeholders, having a well thought-out process and taking a lot of input to develop a marketing plan that covers all the bases properly and uses the money in the best way possible to promote the town.?
Hinson said the goal is to make sure the money is spent in the most effective way possible to promote Washington. He said this involves both external and internal promotion. He said the committee had discussed the situation and determined that it could start giving out money without a plan or it could develop a plan with a consultant to ensure the city got the most benefit for the money being spent.
The first money from the new tax is expected to come into the city in June. Hinson said that area lodging establishments have been collecting taxes. With a quarter of the year ending on March 31, the businesses will have 30 days to submit their taxes to the state. After that, the state has 45 days to give the money to the city. Revenues from the tax, which are projected to be about $30,000 to $40,000 annually, are state-mandated to be used to promote the area. It can be used for tourism, community improvement or promotion.
On Aug. 1, 2017, Washington voters approved
implementing the hotel/motel tax. Collections of the tax began on Jan. 1. The ordinance also formed the Fund Administration Committee to determine how the revenues will be used. The ordinance said the committee members will serve three-year terms. The mayor will appoint two members to represent the city. Two members will come from the Washington Chamber of Commerce. Three other members will be mutually agreed on by the city and the chamber.
This was the third time the issue had come up for a vote in Washington. The previous two times, the measure had failed, with the most recent vote being in 2009 and 67 percent of the voters opposing the measure.