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The Indiana Daily Student

politics

Commissioners ask Stoops for increase on innkeepers tax

The Monroe County Commissioners sent a letter on Nov. 27 to Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, asking for an increase in the innkeeper’s tax to fund the expansion of the Monroe County Convention Center.

The innkeeper’s tax is currently set at the maximum rate of 5 percent. The commissioners are asking the state to increase the maximum to 8 percent.

If this resolution is adopted, the Monroe County Council would have the authority to put the increase to a vote, Council President Geoff McKim said.

The County Council has been working to find funding for the convention center expansion project since February 2013.

Throughout this year, the council discussed a proposed 1-percent increase in the food and beverage tax, but talks ended before a vote was taken.

Some council members opposed the food and beverage tax because the county would be funding a project that primarily affected only Bloomington tourism.

McKim said the benefit of an expanded convention center justifies the tax increase because the convention center would bring businesses more customers.

“Some people think that the expanded convention center only benefits downtown Bloomington,” McKim said. “But the people who actually benefit are the businesses’ employees, and they may live all over Monroe County.”

Another reason that the commissioners have turned their attention to the innkeepers tax is because it will affect tourists rather than local residents, said Monroe County Commissioners’ administrator Angie Chalfant.

“There was some concern that the food and beverage tax would primarily tax the local community, not necessarily the people who were using the convention center,”
Chalfant said.

The innkeeper’s tax, which can fund only tourism related ventures, already supports the operations of the convention center, McKim said.

McKim said the tax was reasonable because other places, such as Vigo County, have recently increased their innkeeper’s tax to 8 percent.

The proposed tax would increase revenues by $1.2 million.

Chalfant said the process of working with the state legislature to increase the tax would take some time.

“Someone will have to introduce the legislation, and the legislature will debate it before voting for it to become law,” Chalfant said.

McKim said an improved convention center would increase traffic to businesses during the week.

“Downtown Bloomington is already maxed out over the weekend, but during the week, restaurants and other businesses would appreciate the increased traffic that conventions will bring,” McKim said.

Follow reporter Brianna Meyer on Twitter @brimmeyer.

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