The city of Decatur wants to increase the hotel and motel tax

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt February 21, 2018

Decatur City Hall.

The city of Decatur has asked for the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow the city to increase its hotel motel tax from 7 percent to 8 percent.

The city wants to provide additional money to the city’s tourism bureau, according to a memo from City Manager Peggy Merriss to the city commission.

“The increase in the hotel-motel tax to 8 percent would allow additional funding for the Decatur Tourism Bureau and provide opportunities for a very robust program for promotion of tourism, conventions and trade shows, including additional staffing at the Visitors’ Center, working with the hotels to make connections with tourism activities in Atlanta and expanding support for tourism activities in the City,” Merriss wrote.

The city expects a new 132 room Hampton Inn on Clairemont Avenue and Marshall Street to open in 2019.

“It is estimated that once the new hotel opens in 2019, initial annual proceeds from the hotel motel tax could be approximately $375,000 for the general fund, $438,000 for the Decatur Tourism Bureau and $187,500 [Tourism Products Development] activities,” Merriss wrote.

Tourism products include, “capital and operating costs for meeting and convention facilities. It also includes sports complexes, visitor and welcome centers, wayfinding signage, parks, trails and other recreational facilities and performing arts facilities which are open to the public and which improve destination appeal to visitors, support visitors’ experience and are used by visitors.”

The money can’t be used to pay off debt on existing buildings.

Merriss left open the possibility that these funds could be used at the United Methodist Children’s Home campus at some point. The city bought the property last year and is currently the midst of a master planning process to determine the best way to use the property.

“In reviewing the requirements and regulations for use of hotel-motel proceeds from an 8 percent tax, it does not appear that proceeds could be currently used to support re-development or debt service for the United Methodist Children’s Home property,” Merriss wrote. “However, in the future, depending on the outcome of the master planning process, there are possible uses which could be supported.”

During the Feb. 5 City Commission meeting, Mayor Patti Garrett said other cities had recently increased their hotel motel taxes. She said the money would be used to better promote the city to people attending events in the Atlanta area.

“How do we put Decatur with such easy MARTA access on the radar screen for people going to Mercedes Benz [Stadium] or on vacation and spending time in Decatur and also in downtown,” Garrett said. “I think this will allow us to have more funds to invest in that.”

Editor’s note: Portions of this story were reported by viewing a live video stream of the Feb. 5 Decatur City Commission meeting. 

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