Washington City Council members have approved continuing the 5 percent lodging tax for the coming year.
The tax, which must be approved by the council each year, has been set at the 5 percent maximum since 2007.
The tax is applied to motels, hotels and bed and breakfast establishments and the revenue is used to promote tourism in Washington.
“This is really a great tool for the city to market itself,” remarked Councilman Tim Brinker.
The tax, approved by voters in 1999, authorizes a maximum tax of 5 percent on motel bills. However, until 2007, the council levied the tax at 3 percent each year.
The tax goes into a tourism fund that is overseen by an appointed tourism commission, which contracts with the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce to undertake tourism activities. The Chamber also contributes to the tourism fund.
Of the revenue collected each year, 95 percent goes for promoting tourism and 5 percent goes to defray expenses of the tourism commission.
The tax money is used to leverage additional funds in the form of state tourism grants and co-op advertising with businesses and other entities.
Since the tax was passed, the funds have allowed the community to advertise in major magazines and that has generated “great response” from tourists, mainly from states surrounding Missouri.
City Clerk Brenda Mitchell told the council that normally the ordinance setting the tax rate is submitted to the Washington Tourism Commission for discussion in May but that she forgot to present it to the board this year.
“Therefore, we have no comments from them, so administration is recommending passage of the ordinance as is, at a 5 percent levy,” Mitchell wrote in a letter to the council.
The council voted unanimously to set the bed tax at the 5 percent rate.