Possible revision to hotel/motel tax a concern for County Commission

State Bill 301 is currently under revision and could change the current hotel/motel revenue distribution in Tucker County.The revision would remove the limitation on amount collected by the county via the hotel occupancy tax used for medical or emergency services.

Currently, the hotel motel tax is a six percent tax.  Anyone who spends the night at a short-term rental in the county pays the tax.  If the rental is within the city or town limits, those towns collect the tax.  Taxes collected from rentals outside of towns and cities, goes to the county.

Half of the six percent goes to the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  That half provides the majority of the funding sources for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The other three percent goes to the County Commission.

According to the County Commission, the revenue amount received from hotel/motel varies each year, but generally it is close to $700,000.  Up to $200,000 of the half that the Commission receives is given to fire departments and EMS in counties where there is “no more than one hospital.”  Tucker and Pocahontas Counties do not have hospitals.

Of the $200,000, $100,000 is split between the four fire departments in the county, and the other $100,000 supports emergency medical services.

The revision to the bill would strike out “in an amount not exceeding $200,000” to medical and emergency services. Removing this cap would make it more competitive for the other county interests that receive funds from the hotel/motel tax.  These interests include Parks and Recreation, the Cultural District Authority, and other grant projects.

“That’s the concern, at the current level we get from hotel/motel tax, removing the cap would make it more competitive for Parks and Rec. and CDA,” Commission President Diane Hinkle said.  “But if we get more than $700,000 then it could be to our advantage.”

The commissioners reported that whatever decisions are made on Bill 301 would not affect the EMS ordinance in the county.  “The hotel/motel revenues are very important to us, that’s why we take such a guarded approach to it,” Hinkle said.

The county commissioners went to Charleston over the weekend and were hoping to receive an update.

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