|Hotels weary of new bed tax|
|Written by Lu Stitt|
|Wednesday, 20 February 2008 12:00|
The amount may not be much, around $1, but for hoteliers in the Cottonwood area the recent 1 percent tax increase is a concern.
The additional tax came about when the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce asked the City Council to approve an increase to help pay expenses to remodel and add on to the existing chamber building at the corner of S. Main Street and Hwy. 260.
The council approved the 1 percent increase in December 2006 to become effective Jan. 1, 2008.
Hoteliers in 2006 disagreed with the council’s decision and resigned, en masse, from chamber membership, citing that they felt used because they were an easy target to get more money for the chamber. The chamber’s membership includes approximately 400 businesses.
That may change soon. The new president of the chamber, Debbie Wilden, said she plans to meet with the hoteliers to see how they and the chamber can come to a mutual agreement.
The hoteliers decided to perform their own marketing and have been doing so for more than one year.
Now that it is a few weeks into collecting the additional 1 percent, Anna May Corey, owner of The Pine Motel, said she does not have a lot of feedback.
What she has received is surprise when people see the extra tax.
“It is a problem when we tell people the price of the room, plus tax. Then they ask how much tax and we say 11.525 percent,” Corey said.
Hoteliers pay the basic 8.5 percent like everyone, plus they add on the now 3 percent bed tax.
She did say that one thing has stayed the same — that the hoteliers do not think the chamber is giving back through its tourism promotions.
“We’re still not mentioned on the chamber Web site. We’re not being hard-nosed. I just want to do my business, but it’s just not the way to treat six businesses. We don’t expect it all back, we just want some tourism marketing for us,” Corey said.
Barbara Vogl, owner of the Best Western Cottonwood Inn said guests ask why the rate changed but no one is balking at paying the extra tax. Most other communities around the Verde Valley charge 3 percent.
Vogl would like to see all of the businesses contribute instead of just the hotels and motels.
About one-third of the money to run the chamber comes from the bed tax instituted in the mid-1980s as a way to support chamber activities. The other two-thirds comes from membership and sources such as sales, events, grants and donations, according to the chamber.
Vogl said Wilden called her to set up a meeting and see about getting the hoteliers back together with the chamber.
“We want something in writing with a commitment to include us in their tourism promotions,” Vogl said.
“I’m meeting with all of the hoteliers individually to see what their issues and needs are to see if we can work something out. I’d like to see us work together and move forward,” Wilden said.
The chamber is creating a tourism Web site, and Wilden promised that the hoteliers will definitely be included.
“They don’t have to be a member to be on the site, but we need their help getting it done. It’s going to be a great site,” she said.
The chamber recently received a $13,800 grant from the Arizona Department of Tourism and some of the money will be used to create the Web site, according to Wilden.
Wilden said she does not know how much money is collected for the bed tax at this point.
“We won’t see that for a few months. We don’t get it from the council until the state issues it,” Wilden said.