Mike Woolfington, Executive Director of the Bureau said, â€śRaising the tax to 5% will allow us to carry on the daily activities of the bureau.Â It will also help us to maintain and increase our current advertising expenditures in the Indianapolis and Chicago area.â€ť Â He did explain by saying, â€ś The innkeeperâ€™s tax is generally paid for by people outside of our county who are passing through.â€ť
Woolfington spoke about the economic impact that comes back to the community. He also explained that the majority of counties that have enacted an innkeeperâ€™s tax across the state are at the maximum rate of 5%.Â The director would like to do some advertising promoting the county as a meeting market.Â He spoke about the opportunities available in the county to host meetings and small conventions with facilities such as Swan Lake, Lindenwood, Culver Cove, Christoâ€™s Banquet Center and Ev and Jayneâ€™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.Â 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.Â The Trail has received national attention with visitors from as far away as California, Oklahoma and Texas. Â Funds from the grant were used to purchase supplies for the quilts.Â The grant is out and now the Convention and Visitorâ€™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, â€śHaving a lower innkeeperâ€™s tax puts pressure on Marshall County to stay at the same level as the other counties in the district.Â Giving him (Woolfington) the increase will give him the tools to stay on par with the rest of us.â€ť
The council motioned to increase the innkeeperâ€™s tax from 3% to 5% with an effective date of January 1, 2011.Â Second and third reading will be held during the Councilâ€™s December meeting.Â In the mean time council members will entertain input from business and citizens on the tax increase.