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Legislators hear request for Douglas County hotel-motel tax increase
by Tom Spigolon
February 13, 2013 05:00 PM | 1713 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Douglas County commissioners are asking the county’s legislative delegation to sponsor a bill to increase the county’s hotel-motel tax to hire a tourism director.

County commissioners met with state lawmakers last week to request the legislation in this year’s session of the General Assembly.

District 61 State Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, said the county government “is trying to get parity with the city” of Douglasville by seeking to increase the tax to the same amount the city charges.

“I’m always hesitant to vote to raise taxes, but the people paying will be passing through,” Bruce said.

A 3 percent increase — to 8 percent — will bring an additional $100,000, county officials said.

The county currently charges 5 percent while the city of Douglasville collects 8 percent from visitors. The city increased its tax rate in 2011 to help fund the recently opened Downtown Convention Center.

Douglas County government in 2012 generated $167,809 from its current 5 percent tax, which is collected at four hotels and motels in the unincorporated part of the county, according to county spokesman Wes Tallon.

Commission Chairman Tom Worthan said the county government would use the increase to create a full-time position to serve as both tourism director and county museum curator.

The goals for the new position will be to draw new visitors and increase the county’s visibility as a vacation destination, he said.

A few ways of meeting those goals include opening the county museum five days a week, developing partnerships with the Film Commission and Development Authority and promoting the county on a global level, Worthan said.

Bruce noted the hotel-motel tax bill would be local legislation affecting only Douglas County.

However, in response to a question on some legislators’ tendencies to oppose any legislation if it increased taxes — even if it was local legislation — Bruce said the potential Douglas County bill was “not a political bill.”

“I’d like to believe that they will allow the Douglas County delegation to decide the issues of Douglas County,” he said.

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