Tourism Lodging Tax
Statement to Warrensburg City Council
January 12, 1998
by Bill Wayne, 431 SE County Road Y, Warrensburg, MO 64093
I'm Bill Wayne, owner of Cedarcroft Farm Bed & Breakfast since 1988. Because I'm outside the City Limits, the only way this tax would affect me is if it is successful in bringing more overnight travel to Warrensburg. Nevertheless, I do have some concerns about the tax, based on almost 10 years in the tourism industry, including work in both statewide and regional organizations, experience on the task force that examined a county-wide room tax several years ago and past involvement in Chamber tourism efforts. My wife & I still strongly promote Warrensburg as a tourism attraction, to the extent of devoting several pages to it on our website.
While administration of funds collected form the public as taxes always entails a high degree of responsibility & ethic, most local taxes are imposed by a vote of at least a substantial portion of those who will be taxed. This room tax is unique in that it is imposed almost entirely on non-residents, who have no local representation.
his situation places an even greater responsibility on you, the elected community leaders, to ensure that any money raised is used wisely.
Essentially, this room tax is an investment in a start-up business. One would not invest in a new business without seeing and analyzing a business plan and a marketing plan. To that end, I would suggest that you thoroughly analyze the plans presented to you BEFORE placing the matter on the ballot. In addition to the normal criteria one would use in examining any business plan before making an investment, I'd suggest looking at the following areas:
Will the tax hurt local lodging establishments, who might be forced to absorb some of the additional cost in order to remain competitive with other nearby lodging options?
- HOW will the plan help local lodging establishments by increasing their occupancy?
- How will the plan bring additional tax revenues to the city by increasing the property tax base or increasing sales tax collections to offset your additional costs of oversight of funds to be expended by a private agency?
The fact that other towns impose such a tax is not a logically valid justification for imposing one here. It reminds me of the youngster who justifies smoking or drinking on the grounds that "everyone's doing it."
While a room tax may be the only way you envision to fund tourism-related activities. it is still using public tax money to do things that private enterprise has thus far been unwilling or unable to do. While this may or may not be philosophically objectionable to you, I ask again that you make sure the money is not wasted by thoroughly analyzing the plan BEFORE placing it on the ballot.
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including Cedarcroft Farm Bed & Breakfast
431 Southeast County Road Y, Warrensburg, Missouri, 64093