Washington Evening Journal
https://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1675499

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2017
Hotel/motel tax approved

Third time issue has come up for a vote

By David Hotle | Aug 02, 2017
Visitor and Tourism Committee members Milline Youngquist, left, Jamie Engeman-Evans, Michelle Redlinger, and Debbie Stanton check the results of Tuesday’s special election regarding Hotel-Motel tax.

 

While waiting for the results of the Hotel Motel Tax referendum Tuesday, members of the Washington Visitor and Tourism Committee felt the vote would be close. They were pleasantly surprised when the third time was the charm and the measure was approved by almost 75 percent.

According to the unofficial results from the Washington County Auditor’s office, 507 of the 4,513 registered voters in Washington voted in the special election. Of those, 380 voted to approved the Hotel Motel Tax that would levy a seven percent tax on the renting of rooms for lodging inside the city, and 127 people voted against it. The measure needed a simple majority to be approved. The tax will go into effect in January and the first proceeds from the tax will be issued sometime in July.

“I’m a little shocked it passed so strongly, but it make sense,” Washington Chamber of Commerce director Michelle Redlinger said. “We had a handful of people that we spoke to who weren’t in favor of it and everyone else seemed to think it made sense. There was not a lot of argument because it just seemed like common sense.”

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.

Committee member Debbie Stanton credits the efforts of the committee to get the word out about the benefits of the measure for the win.

“Getting out the mailers to people, having a website, having a Facebook page so people could ask questions,” she said. “We went to all the service clubs and people from the committee spent a lot of time with that kind of legwork. I feel the education component was more this time. We were more proactive making sure people knew what it was.”

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.

“Its really gratifying to see the people came out in support of this,” tourism committee member Millie Youngquist said. “I think it is a positive sign people are thinking a little more progressively and to the future. We will do our best to see the funds are spent in a way that not only benefit people coming in from outside, but also the people of the city.”

The next step in the process will be behind-the-scenes with the city, Redlinger said. She said the city will confer with the state to create a fund administration committee.

Redlinger said the steering committee had worked hard on the measure and she thanked the community for the support.

“I think the biggest thing is the revenue streem is no longer just leaving Washington but it is now a two-way street,” she said.

“Now when we visit another community we are helping their tourism and when they visit here, they are helping us.”

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.