Possible Hotel Tax Hike

Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta, Georgia offers thrills for tourists from around the country. Some think capitalizing on these travelers could help expand certain county projects.

Rod Casey says, "We're very fortunate here that we have I-75 that runs right through our county so we get a tremendous economic boost off of that."

Capitalizing on the flow of tourists through Lowndes County is one thing that county chairman Rod Casey says is a good thing. One idea is to add a hotel and motel tax, charging the tourists, not the residents to help raise money to make improvements throughout the county.

Casey adds, "We are in need of a new civic center and we have grown to the point where we would like to have a performing arts center like some of the larger communities, and we think that would be good for our community."

Although the thought of a tax increase could open the door for more local venues, not everyone agrees.

Rhonda Miller, general manager at Sleep Inn, says, "The hotel books, the AAA books, they all list the taxes in it so they (tourists) know before they get here and they know what other areas have. So if ours were higher, it may prevent them from stopping here."

Some hotel employees express concern that the higher tax could cause tourists to drive a little further to save a little money, thus bypassing their county all together.

Hotel owners say the tax right now is at 12 percent. Seven percent is state and city tax, where the other five is an "occupancy tax."