Commonwealth Journal

News Live

May 17, 2013

City tourism board, taxes now law

Transient tax rates of 1, 3 percent will fund commission, local events

(Continued)

Somerset —

Rutherford said his reservations come with the idea that the city will be adding another facet to its complex government. 
“I’m against bigger government in general,” said Rutherford. “That’s my only concern about it. We certainly need to support The Center for Rural Development. We certainly appreciate their presence in our community.
“I don’t have a problem with the tax at all ... it’s just the point of another tax. Just something else we have to do,” Rutherford added.
Councilor Tom Eastham was not in attendance Monday. 
Ordinance 13-06 states that the taxes are meant to help fund “ ... operation of the tourist and convention comm-ission and to finance the cost of acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of facilities useful in the attraction and promotion of tourist and convention business ...”
The taxes would affect those staying in “ ... 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 will not apply to renting and leasing apartments.
The City of Somerset Tourist and Convention Commission would be composed of seven members, appointed by Girdler, according to the ordinance. They would be volunteers and not be compensated or receive any city benefits.
 Girdler has said the commission would not have a staff and 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, just as the other city departments do. All purchases would be made through the city financial office, budget director and procurement officer.
Girdler on Monday said the city had toyed with the idea of a city tourist convention for some time. 
“We’ve been thinking about doing that,” said Girdler. “We reviewed that for the past four years, so it’s not a new thing.” 
The ordinance is available in its entirety at Somerset City Hall.

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