I write in response to your editorial Sunday concerning the Tax Advisory Policy Board and the Local Marketing District proposal for a 2 percent lodging tax.
I write as an individual on the board, but these views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of other members of the board.
First and foremost, the board was an advisory board on policies, future needs and revenue sources. Creating new taxes was not our mission. It is true that we heard a presentation from a representative of the lodging community concerning the levying of an additional 2 percent tax on lodging to be used for airline subsidies June 10 with the proposal expected to be ready by July 13. I inquired whether transportation might be a better, more general purpose for the tax and was told no, only airline subsidies.
Suddenly on Aug. 12, we were presented with a plan to create a Local Marketing District that basically would levy the tax within its borders, be voted on only by those registered voters who live within those borders and to be administered by a board selected only from those same electors. That was Aug. 12, with the first public hearing scheduled five days later, on Aug. 17, and the second hearing scheduled for Sept. 7.
The Pilot & Today did report on the tax proposal but without any explanation of the exact nature of a Local Marketing District or on how the money would be collected, spent or administered.
I went to the first public hearing and requested that the proposal be changed to increase the existing 1 percent to 3 percent with the increase to be used for transportation, primarily the airline subsidy. This increase would apply to the whole community and be voted on by the whole community. This additional money would be administered in the same way that the current proceeds from the 1 percent lodging tax is administered with the lodging community advising on the expenditures.
My objections are not to the tax itself, which I would vote for, but to the method being used to create a separate district within our community with the implication that we are not a single community with a single purpose. Not everyone works in the lodging industry, but everyone in this town makes it what it is, and we all need to make this major decision, not just a small select group.
As a volunteer board, we may be slow, but we do work fully under the public eye and not behind closed doors. This is another case of your newspaper choosing which half of the information you select to publish.