On Tuesday, January 13th, Grove citizens will be asked to decide whether or not the city should enact a five percent hotel/motel tax, which would go into effect in the early summer.
Some area hotel and RV park owners have come out against the tax, stating that it will drive prices too high and cause tourists to seek lodging outside the city.
City officials counter that the tax would allow them to enhance tourism in the area and bring more customers to all area businesses, including hotels, motels, and RV parks.
“The primary purpose of the tax is to get people into the hotels in greater numbers and to get them to stay in town longer,” said City Manager Bruce Johnson.
According to Johnson, the average price of a hotel room in Grove is $70 per night, which would mean that the average collected tax on a room would be around $3.50 for each night.
RV sites average about $20 per site, which comes to an extra $1.00 per night.
He said the tax would raise approximately $100,000 to $150,000 per year – revenue dollars that the city sorely needs.
Grove Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Friden said the Chamber is “very supportive of the tax. It will bring us revenue to help market Grove on a more aggressive level.
“We need it,” she said. “It’s a tax that won’t directly effect residents. Only visitors will pay it.
“When all of us travel, we expect to pay these taxes in other place,” Friden added.
Johnson concurred. He said when he spoke to mayors and city managers from other towns, they always assumed Grove already had a hotel/motel tax.
“They think it’s just a no-brainer that Grove, with the lake and all it has to offer, would already have a hotel/motel tax,” Johnson said.
He noted that one of the most compelling reasons to pass the tax now is an opinion statement issued by the office of State Attorney General Drew Edmondson.
The opinion states that if a city has a lodging tax in place before the county it is in passes a lodging tax, any lodging tax passed by the county will not effect lodging in the corporate limits of that city. However, if a city wants to levy a lodging tax after its county already has one in place that tax will be charged on top of what the county is already charging.
This could mean a double lodging tax if Delaware County happened to pass a hotel/motel tax before Grove has one in place.
“If Grove passes the five percent tax now, it won’t go any higher,” Johnson said.
He noted that the city would not be the sole decision-maker regarding what the revenue would be used for if the tax passed.
At Tuesday night’s Grove City Council meeting, the council approved a measure to form a committee which would make a recommendation about how the funds should be spent.
Johnson said that committee will consist of two city council members; one or two citizens with expertise in the field of hotel management/ownership; one to three members with expertise in tourism development, and one to two members from the community at large.
“The committee will define who we are when it comes to tourism and will create and execute a marketing plan for Grove,” Johnson said.
Anyone who wishes to serve on the committee may send a letter of application to the City of Grove.
Citizens are encouraged to visit the polls Tuesday.