Council members also discussed the possible hotel/motel tax increase with hopes of putting something on the ballot for voters by April. The original discussion focused on a 1 percent or 2 percent increase. Tuesday night, a possible 1.5 percent increase was briefly discussed and will be looked at in more depth.
While increasing the tax would increase funding for the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau, local hoteliers want to stay competitive with Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the ability to bid conventions and bring those large revenue producers to town.
Currently, local hotels are attracting conventions that previously booked in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Under consideration in winning those bids is the complete tax package. Tulsa has a slightly lower sales tax than Norman. The large conventions are bid by total tax package including sales and motel/hotel tax.
“If we’re equal to Oklahoma City, we lose that competitive advantage,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.
In regular session
At the regular, 6:30 council meeting, ReRun Junction was recognized as this year’s Human Rights award recipient. The thrift store provides employment for persons with developmental and other disabilities.
“ReRun employees have said they are not looking for any special treatment.” said Kay Hamm, Norman Human Rights Commission.
The Commission selects the annual award recipient which may be either an individual or an organization. Accepting the award on behalf of ReRun Junction were employees Sandy Ackerman and Lisa Eubanks.
“I would like to take this time to thank you for your support of ReRun Junction,” Eubanks said. “We would like to be seen as individuals who make an impact on Norman and we would like to be known as people who make a positive impact.”
Comments by Eubanks and Ackerman received a standing ovation. Also attending from ReRun Junction were employee Emily Sandefer and Vocational Coordinator Dolly Triplett.
In closing comments City Manager Steve Lewis said December receipts of tax collections were up 6.6 percent over collections for the same time period last year.
“We’re still a little bit below budget projections for the year,” Lewis said.
Further details will be forthcoming soon in the monthly report by the finance department.