By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus Commonwealth Journal
Planned establishment of a tourism commission by the city of Somerset is in the news, but the subject is old hat in city of Burnside.
Burnside has levied a 3 percent tax on restaurants sales to promote tourism since early 2005, shortly after the city voted “moist,” allowing sales of alcoholic beverages in large restaurants.
Ed Furlong, director of Burnside Tourist and Recreation Commission, said the tax brings in between $130,000 and $140,000 a year. The tax is levied against gross sales of restaurants within the city of Burnside.
The tourism levy in Burnside is not a transient motel room tax and is not applied to room rentals. Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau collects a 3 percent transient room tax on overnight lodging places in Burnside.
“The amount of revenue gleaned from the 3 percent levy on restaurants “varies greatly,” said Furlong. “We use the money to promote tourism in Burnside.”
Dubbed “The Only Town on Lake Cumberland,” Burnside has 279 households and slightly more than 600 residents. Burnside Tourist and Recreation Commission is governed by an eight-member board, headed by Furlong.
Somerset City Council has approved first reading of an ordinance that would levy a 3 percent transient room tax in Somerset as well as a 1 percent levy to promote a convention center. These taxes, if effected, would be in addition to the 3 percent transient room tax collected by Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau. The total would up transient taxes to 7 percent for motel guests in the city of Somerset.
According to Mayor Eddie Girdler, Somerset is taking steps to form a City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission because he claims the city “doesn’t have a place at the table” at Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Center.