In addition, Somerset City Council, according to the ordinance, would enact a special transient room tax of 1 percent for the sole purpose of meeting operating expenses of a convention center located within the city’s corporate limits. Girdler said The Center for Rural Development would benefit from the 1 percent transient tax.
The 1 percent special transient room tax would glean between $25,000 to $30,000 a year, the mayor estimated. He did not mention the 3 percent transient room tax, but most overnight lodging places are within the city. The countywide tax, during the 2011-12 fiscal year yielded $327,601.28.
Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau will continue to collect a 3 percent transient room tax from lodging places within the city and county. With Lake Cumberland rising back toward a normal level, visitation numbers and transient room taxes should increase.
“Our position is that we (Somerset) have been excluded ... and we no longer will be excluded,” Girdler told the Commonwealth Journal. “We have not been invited to partner with the Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau. We have been only a token ... we don’t have a place at the table. This (City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission) is the only way we can be involved.”
The City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission would be composed of seven members, appointed by the mayor, according to the ordinance. They would be volunteers and not be compensated or receive any city benefits.
Girdler said the commission would not have a staff; that city employees would provide operational duties. The commission would annually submit to Somerset City Council a request for funds to operate the commission for the ensuing fiscal year. All purchases would be made through the city financial office, budget director and procurement officer.
Girdler indicated during the interview Wednesday that second reading of the tourist and convention center ordinance is not set in stone.
“IF WE DO give the ordinance a second reading,” was the mayor’s response when as about the ordinance’s schedule. He said he still would prefer a joint city-county tourism commission.
A Somerset ordinance must be approved on two readings and published before it becomes law.