Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 15, 2018

Residents to decide on hotel-motel tax

By David Hotle | Jul 25, 2017



As of the middle of Tuesday morning, the Washington County Auditor’s office reported that 91 people have voted absentee in the decision of whether Washington should impose a hotel-motel tax to help fund economic development of the city.

People wishing to vote absentee can do so at the auditor’s office during regular office hours, which are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and request a ballot at the front desk. The office will be open until 5 p.m. on Friday to provide voters with more time. The only polling place in Washington will be in the courthouse basement. Polling hours on Tuesday, Aug. 1, will be noon to 8 p.m. The Washington Evening Journal will post the results of the election on its website as soon as they become available. Alternatively, a ballot can be mailed to a voter if they fill out and submit a request form. The ballot request form may be obtained from the Washington County Auditor’s office or the following websites: co.washington.ia.us or sos.iowa.gov. If requesting a ballot by mail, the signed request may be delivered or mailed to the Washington County Auditor, Box 889, Washington, IA 52353, and must be received in the Auditor’s office no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, July 28. Anyone having questions should contact the Washington County Auditor’s office 319-653-7717.

If approved, the measure would levy a 7 percent tax on the renting of rooms in any motel, inn or lodging. Sarah Grunewaldt stressed the tax wouldn’t be a tax levied on property owners in Washington County, rather it would be collected from people who rent lodging in the city.

During a previous interview, Washington Chamber of Commerce director Michelle Redlinger stressed the tax is only levied on people who rent a room in the city and isn’t a property 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. A committee will be set up to determine how the money will be used. It can be used for tourism, community improvement or promotion.

A fund administrating committee made up of people from the city, from the Chamber’s tourism committee and from community members would decide how to spend the funds. Redlinger said there has been no discussion yet about what projects would be done.

The City of Washington had asked the Washington Chamber of Commerce to promote a referendum for a hotel-motel tax in 2016, but the vote was put off until this year due to the city hosting the RAGBRAI bicycle ride for an evening.

The community has voted on whether to have a hotel/motel tax in the past and it has been voted down.

The most recent time the issue was voted on was in 2009, and the result was 67 percent of the people who voted opposed the tax.

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