Washington Evening Journal
https://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1689764

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2017

Motel tax moves ahead

Sep 21, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

While forming a committee to administer proceeds from the city’s new hotel/motel tax, city council member Jaron Rosien mentioned the city’s Independence Day fireworks display was “abysmal and that it is not a draw for people” and suggested some of the funds go to improve next year’s display.

During the regular Washington City Council meeting Tuesday, the council members voted unanimously to approve the final reading of an ordinance to establish a hotel/motel tax in Washington and to set up a new fund account for the revenues from the tax. In a previous interview city administrator Brent Hinson stressed the tax is imposed on transient lodging and that rental property would not be impacted by the tax. 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.

“We’re excited to get going on this process,” Hinson said. “I think we are going to do great things with it.”

On Aug. 1, Washington voters approved implementing the hotel/motel tax. Collections of the tax will begin on Jan. 1 and the first revenues to the city are expected in July.

The ordinance also formed a Fund Administration Committee that will 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. The council must confirm all appointees.

According to the council packet, the city’s representatives will be Millie Youngquist and Steve Gault. The chamber’s representatives will be Bill Fredrick and Diane Gallagher. The community representatives will be Jamie Engeman-Evans, Debbie Stanton and Charla Howard.

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.

In other business, the council:

• approved allowing Relay For Life to use Central Park for the 2018 relay;

• heard a presentation from PAWS and More animal shelter and will consider contributing an additional $4,000 to the group;

• approved the 2017 street financial report;

•approved the second reading of the historic preservation commission ordinance; and

• approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the former Cargill property.

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