Mike Woolfington, Executive Director of the Bureau said, “Raising the tax to 5% will allow us to carry on the daily activities of the bureau. It will also help us to maintain and increase our current advertising expenditures in the Indianapolis and Chicago area.” He did explain by saying, “ The innkeeper’s tax is generally paid for by people outside of our county who are passing through.”
Woolfington spoke about the economic impact that comes back to the community. He also explained that the majority of counties that have enacted an innkeeper’s tax across the state are at the maximum rate of 5%. The director would like to do some advertising promoting the county as a meeting market. He spoke about the opportunities available in the county to host meetings and small conventions with facilities such as Swan Lake, Lindenwood, Culver Cove, Christo’s Banquet Center and Ev and Jayne’s Irish Inn.
With the economic conditions the Convention Bureau has seen a decline in the revenues causing them to have to drop advertising assistance to events and non-profits in the county. Woolfington also noted that two flagship hotels in the county have lost their franchise in the last 4 or 5 years.
Woolfington talked about the new Barn Quilt Trail that started last year with a grant from the Community Foundation. The Trail has received national attention with visitors from as far away as California, Oklahoma and Texas. Funds from the grant were used to purchase supplies for the quilts. The grant is out and now the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau needs to find additional sources of revenue or have homeowners purchase materials for their own quilt.
During the public hearing, Dan Barris from the Northern Indiana Tourism said, “Having a lower innkeeper’s tax puts pressure on Marshall County to stay at the same level as the other counties in the district. Giving him (Woolfington) the increase will give him the tools to stay on par with the rest of us.”
The council motioned to increase the innkeeper’s tax from 3% to 5% with an effective date of January 1, 2011. Second and third reading will be held during the Council’s December meeting. In the mean time council members will entertain input from business and citizens on the tax increase.