The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 5, 2013

Hotel night room taxespopular among voters

NORMAN — Taxes on hotel and motel rooms have become popular among voters around the country. The folks that pay the taxes aren’t usually the same ones that vote for them.

It’s a way to fund tourism, parks, the arts and other interests without adding on more sales or property taxes for the local residents. Norman’s 4 percent rate is added onto the regular sales tax. Proponents want to raise that to five percent.

In Norman, half of the tax goes to the Norman Convention and Tourism Bureau, the arts receives 25 percent and the city’s parks department gets the remaining 25 percent.

Council members will receive a proposed ordinance raising the tax rate at their meeting Tuesday. It’ll be up for a second reading and public discussion on Jan. 22.

Voters would ultimately decide the tax fate. Council members want the increased revenue from out-of-town guests but they also don’t want to knock the city out of the competition for conventions, sports tournaments and other items.

If the council approves the increase, it will go to the voters, possibly on the same ballot as the mayor and council primary, April 2. If it goes to the voters, there’s a good chance it will pass. Few cities have turned them down.

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