Hancock County Tourism Leaders Want A New Tourism Tax

Tourism leaders say a 2 percent tax on space rentals at local RV parks and weekly home rentals could generated around $40,000 a year. City leaders say that money is badly needed.

"Our budget is constantly dwindling," tourism bureau president Bill Lady says.  "The hotel environment in our area has been very slow.  We've been through one of the worst two year periods I can remember."

The bureau is currently funded in part by a 2 percent lodging tax.  But he says with the state tourism department facing budget cuts this year, things will get even worse for them.  You see in past years the State has provided grants to local tourism bureaus to help promote their areas.

"It's very necessary for the towns and the smaller communities to promote tourism because it brings new dollars into the community.  It increzses your sales tax revenue at your local retail outlets, and your food and beverage outlets," Lady says.  "I wish we could have more money to advertise.  We could double or even triple the amount of money we have coming in here."

Don and Wonda Weaver are campers from Illinois, they say a 2-percent tax added to space rentals will drive campers away.

"If they start raising the rate on us, and throw in a tax on us, then needless to say campers are going to find some other place to go," Don Weaver says.

But Shirley and Lou Potts from St. Louis, Mo., disagree.

"That doesn't sound unreasonable, with what we're paying here," Shirley Potts says.  "I can see where that would do some good, and it doesn't seem out of line."

"You have to fund everything," Lou Potts says.  "You don't get something for nothing."

Rental rates vary at this park, but the Weaver' and Pott's both pay $13 a night for their spaces. A 2 percent tax would mean an additional 26 cents a day.

Hancock County Supervisors will consider the tourism tax proposal at their February meeting