Tourism Lodging Tax
Questions on the Issue
Posed to the Warrensburg Mayor, December 1997
by Bill Wayne, 431 SE County Road Y, Warrensburg, MO 64093
Warrensburg City Council & Editor:
Since my bed & breakfast is outside the Warrensburg city limits, an increase in overnight stays as a result of tourism promotion using room tax money can only help my occupancy. My guests will continue to pay 5.725% while those staying in the city will pay from 10.225% to 12.225%, depending on the rate established. So, as the saying goes, whatever happens is 'no skin off my nose' - I won't collect it and can't vote on it and I don't currently belong to any group that may be involved in trying to spend it. However, that doesn't mean I can't draw from my 9 years experience in the tourism industry to form an opinion on it.
Back about 5 years ago, the County Commission set up a task force to investigate the possibility of imposing a county-wide tax; I was one of the lodging industry representatives on the panel. A rather extensive review of county-wide tourism assets was conducted; the conclusions and recommendations had a limited amount of specific detail. After the report was submitted, no action was taken by the County Commission, I suspect because nobody strongly pushed for further action. Interestingly, about the time this review was getting started, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce eliminated its Tourism Committee.
The state law authorizing this tax requires the money to be spent to develop & promote tourism. This is fairly general and gives quite a bit of leeway to the local Convention and Visitor's Bureau (the Chamber of Commerce in this case).
With this background in mind, I want to identify the questions various groups need to ask about this tax and the funds expected to be generated by it:
Lodging owners need to know:
How will the additional tax generate additional overnight stays, especially in what are now non-peak times (will the activities, events and destinations created and/or promoted generate overnight stays)?
How will the additional tax affect the overall competitive situation of their establishments, especially considering that Warrensburg is a high tax location to begin with? Have allowances been made to limit charges for long-term guests?
Can documentation be provided correlating occupancy and tax rates in similarly situated cities which did not already have a strong tourism magnet?
Is CMSU's Conference Center exempt from the tax; if so, will CMSU make available and very strictly apply the guidelines about who can stay there so the Conference Center is not in competiton with local establishments?
Voters will need to know exactly how the money is to be spent:
Is there a detailed marketing plan laying out the how the money is to be used? If not, is there a general marketing plan which includes how and when the detailed marketing plan will be written? Is this plan available for public perusal at the library?
Is a budget established for various items:
Wages - will additional people be hired? Will the tourism budget pay a portion of the salaries of existing staff?
Printing and publications - what kind of tourism-development publications are to be supported? How will any such publications be distributed?
Event support - what kind of events are to be supported and how are they to be supported? Will events outside the Warrensburg city limits be supported (e.g., the County Fairgrounds)? Will event support include holding cocktail parties for or serving food or alcohol to adult leaders of groups holding events at CMSU?
Event development - will there be seed money or support (direct or advertising) for non-chamber groups attempting to develop new events or to expand on existing ones?
Attraction support - is there an inventory of tourism attractions? Will any money be used to support attractions?
Attraction development - will there be seed money or support (direct or advertising) for non-chamber groups attempting to develop new attractions or to expand on existing ones?
Communications - will there be a toll-free info number? Will there be an internet web page? If so, will it link to pages of local businesses or attractions? What's the target market for direct mail advertising?
Advertising and publicity - what is the overall advertising plan? Will Warrensburg as a destination be advertised as well as special events? Where will advertising be done? Is there a plan for a directed public relations program?
Other fund sources: How much additional funding or support is expected, from grants, state cooperative funding, the City of Warrensburg economic development funds or CMSU?
Oversight and audit: Who is going to be responsible for ensuring that the funds are spent properly and wisely and reporting on such to the public?
Who developed the plan: Who served on the committee that developed the tourism plan and tax proposal?
In light of the recent experience of Mr. Jim Davis of Merced, CA, as reported in his letter printed in various local papers, I would hope that the City Council will make sure that answers to these questions are available before placing the issue on the ballot.
| Old Drum Net Home | Tourism Budget | Annual Report | Chamber/City Contract | City Ordinance | Tourism Tax Index |
This website compliments of
including Cedarcroft Farm Bed & Breakfast
431 Southeast County Road Y, Warrensburg, Missouri, 64093