Haywood’s elected leaders plan to invite their three General Assembly representatives to a March meeting in hopes of reviving a bill that would raise the tax on overnight lodging stays and using the additional money for capital projects to boost tourism.
Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties all reported an increase in lodging tax revenue last fiscal year, compared to the prior year, though in some cases the hike is due to tax increases rather than an increase in travelers.
Lodging tax revenue was up during the past year in Haywood County, and could see another boost in the new fiscal year after the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority decided to get tough on delinquent taxpayers.
Alice Aumen, one of the owners of Cataloochee Ranch and a longtime tourism booster in Haywood County and Western North Carolina, hit the nail on the head: “It’s a vision problem.”
She was referring to the decision by Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, not to support the proposed room tax hike for Haywood County because a small, vocal contingent of lodging owners and two town aldermen in Maggie Valley came out against it. Because everyone in Haywood would not support the hike, Davis allowed it to die in committee. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars for tourism-related capital projects will not find its way to Haywood County.
Even though an “overwhelming majority” of community leaders in Haywood County support a lodging tax increase, a state bill that would have done just that died in the state legislature last week.
A state bill that would raise Haywood County’s lodging tax is still sitting idly in committee in Raleigh with no signs of going up for a vote soon in the General Assembly.
The room tax hike being sought by Haywood leaders needs to pass and deserves the support of the legislative delegation in Raleigh, and we hope that Sen. Jim Davis in particular will get on board and shepherd this bill through the Senate.
The hike, an additional 2 cents on each dollar spent on overnight lodging, would bring the room tax up to 6 cents. It would net about $450,000 each year in additional revenue that could be spent on attracting tourists.
Without support from the Maggie Valley Lodging Association, a bill to increase the room tax in Haywood County could die in the N.C. General Assembly.
Maggie Valley leaders on opposing sides of the tourist tax hike both claim to have the majority in their corner.
Maggie Mayor Ron DeSimone presented a stack of letters of support from hotel owners to state legislators during a trip to Raleigh last week, urging them to shepherd the room tax increase to passage. DeSimone spent several days visiting lodging businesses in Maggie to see where they stood.
A faction of lodging owners in Maggie Valley is hoping to derail a tax increase on overnight accommodations.
The money brought in — roughly $450,000 a year — would be dedicated solely to building tourism attractions or improving existing ones.