By Seann McAnally
To tax hotel rooms or not? That’s the question facing Grandview voters on Tuesday, August 2.
The special election will decide the fate of a proposed “hotel/motel tax.” The tax of 5 percent on hotel and motel rooms would be paid by customers of Grandview’s two hotels.
If passed, the tax revenues are expected to generate some $120,000 annually, although the actual revenue would depend on how many visitors stayed in hotel rooms. It would take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2012. State law says that has to be used to promote tourism.
“This tax will be paid by visitors to Granview and by some of our major employers who bring clients to the city,” said Alan Kenyan, director of economic development. “It applies only to the room charges at local hotels and motels. It does not apply to restaurants or bars associated with…motels here.”
Multiple cities in the Kansas City Metro area already have such a tax. In Belton and Lee’s Summit, the tax is 5 percent, level with Grandview’s proposed tax. In Kansas City it is 7.5 percent.
“This would help Grandview compete with other cities,” said Mayor Steve Dennis. “This is an opportunity to help promote tourism with virtually no tax impact on individual residents. And just about everywhere you travel these days, you generally pay this tax in other cities across America.”
City officials are hopeful that, as Grandview works to improve its image in the surrounding Metro area with such programs as Main Street renovations and development along the 150 Highway corridor, the tax will generate much-needed funds to support tourism and promote Grandview.
Joe Gall, city attorney, said state law is vague about what, exactly, promotes tourism.
“You can be pretty creative about it,” Gall said at a June work session of the Board of Aldermen. He said some nearby cities have used it for construction projects, or, in the case of Blue Springs, to pay off debts from TIF projects associated with tourism, such as convention centers. Lee’s Summit uses the money to partially fund its Economic Development Commission, Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Main Street organizations.
Grandview board members brainstormed several ideas of what to do with the funds, including creating a civic center downtown at 8th and Main streets, increased marketing promoting Grandview in general or for traditional civic events like the Harry’s Hay Days Parade. The funds could also be useful in promoting events associated with Grandview’s 100 year anniversary, which will be celebrated all through 2012.
Dennis reminded residents they would not bear the burden of the tax.
“Grandview residents won’t have to pay this tax unless they stay at one of our hotels,” he said at the June work session.
NOTE: Some poll locations have changed. For voting locations, see the Jackson County Advocate print edition or call (816) 325-4600.