The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 22, 2013

Send room tax increase to a vote

NORMAN — Norman City Council members tonight should put a hotel-motel room tax increase on the April 2 municipal ballot. The proposal is to raise the rate from 4 percent to 5 percent. That’s tacked onto state and local sales taxes.

Norman voters are likely to approve such an increase. It’s a popular tax, since the folks that vote on it aren’t usually the ones who pay the tax. In Norman, the 4 percent rate was first imposed on room nights in 1980.

At that time, there were only a few local hotels and motels. Today, there are hundreds of rooms, with new properties opening each year. The tax brought in $1,133,930 this past fiscal year. It has produced more than $1 million per year for the past three fiscal years.

In Norman, the convention and visitors bureau receives half of the tax, a fourth goes to the arts and a fourth to the city’s parks and recreation department.

If council members are convinced that the higher tax won’t impact the city’s competitiveness to bring conventions, sporting events and meetings to Norman, then they should put it to a vote on the April 2 ballot.

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