Posted on September 10, 2012 at 7:29 AM
Monday, Sep 10 at 7:40 AM
AUSTIN -- It could soon cost more to stay at an Austin-area hotel or motel, rent a car or purchase an event ticket.
Travis County commissioners are considering raising tourism taxes. The county has debated a proposed increase numerous times over the past decade; most recently last year. It hasn't passed before, but this week commissioners are taking another look. A vote could come this week, as early as Tuesday.
There's been a lot of opposition to the proposed increase. The hotel industry has argued it will hurt business and turn customers away.
“When companies and business conventions have the opportunity to select from different cities, they obviously look at the entire cost structure. If we have a higher cost as opposed to competitive cities they might choose some of the other cities over Austin,” said Gene McMenamin of the Omni Hotel.
The City of Austin's website lists the current hotel occupancy tax rate at nine percent. Seven percent is attributed to the occupancy tax. Two percent goes to what’s referred to as a 'venue project tax.' Those funds are used to help pay for new venues in Austin and Travis County. The State of Texas also charges a separate tax of six percent. An increase could tie Austin with cities including Houston and Indianapolis for the highest combined lodging taxes in the country.
If commissioners approve tax increases they say the additional funds would go toward the venue project tax. Potential projects include a new entertainment center or upgrades to the Travis County Expo Center.
If approved by the commissioners the decision would then go to voters. Commissioners have said getting it on the ballot could take up to a year.