Somerset is getting ready to take a bigger bite out of tourists’ pocketbooks than originally thought.
Total transient room taxes proposed in an ordinance given first-reading approval Monday night by Somerset City Council is 4 percent, 3 percent more than the 1 percent reported in Thursday’s Commonwealth Journal.
The 4 percent motel room taxes proposed by Somerset is in addition to 3 percent already collected by Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau. The countywide transient room tax was enacted several years ago by Pulaski Fiscal Court.
If the ordinance creating a City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Center Commission is given a second reading and enacted into law, it would mean guests at lodging places within the corporate limits of Somerset would pay 7 percent in transient taxes –– 4 percent to the city tourist commission and 3 percent to the countywide bureau.
The Commonwealth Journal admittedly was late reporting first reading of the tourism ordinance because of a crush of news events this week. Two reporters tried unsuccessfully Wednesday afternoon to obtain a copy of the ordinance establishing the transient room taxes. We were told Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese had the only copy and she was out of her office.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, during an interview Wednesday afternoon, mentioned only the 1 percent special transient room tax for the convention center. The ordinance establishing a City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission, obtained Thursday morning from Wiese, also includes a 3 percent transient room tax.
Ordinance No. 13-06 says “For the purposes of operation of the tourist and convention commission and to finance the cost of acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of facilities useful in the attraction and promotion of tourist and convention business, there is hereby imposed and levied a transient room tax of 3 percent for the rent for ever occupancy of a suite, room or rooms, charged by all persons, corporations, or the like, or similar persons, groups, or organizations doing business as motor courts, motels, hotels, inns, or the like, or similar accommodations businesses ...” The taxes don’t apply to renting and leasing apartments.