Sandra S. Wayne
431 SE Cty Rd. Y, Warrensburg, Mo. 64093
Letter to Editor
Recently I was told that if I do not support the proposed Lodging Tax in the April election, my business will suffer. I need only to admit to those supporting the tax that I will never dare disagree with their views. I should not question how the revenue from the tax will be spent. My business will surely benefit from tourism efforts blossoming from filled coffers.
I questioned the offer to join the bandwagon by asking if a tourism marketing plan had been developed to illustrate how the new income will be used and how the "taxees" will benefit from shelling out a dollar or so for tourism information.
A few years ago, a study by a Johnson County Tourism Committee (appointed by the Johnson County Commissioners & chaired by Kathy Howard), offered the foundation for a tourism marketing plan for Johnson County. This study analyzed the potential for a county-wide lodging tax and included a detailed inventory of tourism assets and deficiencies in the county and each of its cities.
The tourism inventory had focus. The committee used resources such as "Tourism USA: Guidelines for Tourism Development," by Dr. Glen Weaver, Director of the Tourism Research and Development Center, University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. Weaver, a nationally-known expert, also visited with the Johnson County committee to guide their initial efforts. No one considered asking for a tax without giving voters direction as to how the money would be used. After the study concluded, the committee report, along with backup data including the inventory of attractions, was filed at the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, the Chamber apparently can't find these files.
The Chamber has prepared a brochure promoting the lodging tax. This brochure states that the purpose of the tax is to fund a Convention and Visitors Bureau for the sole purpose of promoting Warrensburg tourism. However, it also states that only 80 percent of tax revenue will go for tourism, with the remaining 20 percent to offset Chamber expenses.
A lodging tax supporting a well-developed tourism marketing plan can help succeed in expanding tourism. However, voters should visit with Chamber and Lodging Tax supporters and insist on detailed answers to the simple question: "What are you going to do with the money?"
Even though I can't vote on the tax, it seems that my business will be placed in jeopardy if I don't hush up and support it. Guess they want me to forget the advice from an old horse trader: always look in the horse's mouth before you buy it.
Sandra S. Wayne
Note: We had to cut and revise this some before the Star Journal would accept it.