The motel tax Decatur County is considering

Published 12:05 pm Monday, September 30, 2013

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners has begun the process of establishing a hotel and motel tax in Decatur County.
Commissioner Jan Godwin has mentioned the possibility of establishing such a tax as a way to generate additional revenue for the county and to promote tourism to the county. Last Tuesday night, the commission asked for an ordinance authorizing the imposition of the tax.
County attorney Brown Moseley said that state law outlines 23 different scenarios under which the county could impose such a tax.
Decatur County Attorney Moseley’s recommendation to the commission is that the tax rate be set at five-percent. Three-percent be unencumbered and could be used at the county’s discretion and two-percent would allocated to promote tourism.
Currently, there is a five-percent tax in establishments inside the Bainbridge city limits. Of that five-percent, three-percent is unrestricted and goes into the city’s general fund. The other two-percent is spent to promote tourism through the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
For fiscal year 2012, the city collected $137,056 from this tax and, according to the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, is projecting to collect $182,235.
The county’s tax would apply to all establishments in the county, including those within the city limits. There are two motels in the county that are not in the Bainbridge city limits.
State law allows the taxation of hotels, motels, inns, tourist camps, tourist cabins, campgrounds, or any other place in which rooms, lodgings, or accommodations are regularly furnished for value.
“Can we stipulate that this is only for hotels and motels,” asked commissioner Jan Godwin.
“Yes, this would be only for commercial hotels and motels,” responded attorney Moseley.
Commission Chairman Russell Smith asked is the tax would apply to hunting lodges or plantations that provide rooms for visiting hunters.
“We would have to take a look at how they operate and they could be included as well,” responded Moseley.
Commissioner Butch Mosely owns and operates the Climax Gun Club, a hunting lodge that can provide accommodations for up to eight hunters at a time.
Attorney Moseley indicated that he would provide each commissioner with several different version of an ordinance in advance of the next regularly scheduled meeting. At the next meeting on October 8, the commission is expected to vote on passage of the ordinance that would establish such a tax.

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