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City tentatively OKs hotel tax increase

— Albany, Ga. — Guests who stay in Albany motels and hotels will pay a little more to spend the night here soon if the Albany City Commission formally OKs a 1 percent tax increase it tentatively approved at its work session Tuesday morning.

The state Legislature voted during the 2012 session to allow governments to increase hotel/motel taxes by 1 percent if the additional revenue generated is used for “tourism product development.” The City Commission voted to increase the tax to 8 percent, a move that would generate an estimated $200,000 a year in additional income, but it could not decide where the additional funds should be spent.

Assistant City Manager Wes Smith suggested in presenting the agenda item to commissioners that the additional tax money collected could be used to pay on the $1.4 million in annual expenses needed to operate the Albany Civic Center, but Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta said the money might be better utilized to help fund the Flint RiverQuarium and the Civil Rights Institute.

“Some people have suggested earmarking 60 percent of the tax money for the RiverQuarium and 40 percent for the Civil Rights Institute,” Marietta said. “I feel this was the intent of the General Assembly, to fund tourist destinations.”

Ward V Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Bob Langstaff, who ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, opposed Marietta’s suggestion.

“We have a $1.2 million to $1.4 million expense at the Civic Center that’s not going away,” Langstaff said. “We had to borrow how much to balance our budget this year?”

Informed by City Manager James Taylor that the figure was $5 million, Langstaff continued, “(The tax money) would be $200,000 in the right direction of cutting that deficit, of not having to take more money from the general fund. I was excited about the opportunity as it was presented (by Smith), but I’m not so excited about these other (proposed) uses.”

Told by City Attorney Nathan Davis that the tax increase would have to meet the approval of the commission and the General Assembly, Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell asked if the additional funding had to be earmarked before it was sent to the General Assembly. Taylor said, “Your hands are not tied (to specific usage),” but he noted that the commission would need to make a decision soon.

The board tentatively approved the tax increase but asked staff to check with the local legislative delegation to determine if specific use of the new tax money generated was needed for the General Assembly to give its approval.

Officials with the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau said the city typically collects around $1.45 million a year in hotel/motel taxes at a 7 percent tax rate. That money is equally divided between the city and the CVB.

Comments

ilovealbany 1 year, 10 months ago

Let me get this straight...our commissioners are increasing a tax and really aren't sure where to spend the money! HA! That's kinda like getting a bonus and not knowing what to do with it...wait a minute, that rarely happens know a days. How bout this Albany leadership...no more taxes, ESPECIALLY WITH NO GOOD REASON!!! What a bunch of clowns...Marietta, I'm not sure that you are concerned about your next election.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

He is, trust me Marietta is very concerned about his next election. He wants to make sure he goes unopposed. LOL

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

He is just pandering like he always does. Right, Marietta?

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Twosons 1 year, 10 months ago

Hey Slang-gaff. The civic center is not a tourist attraction, it is an attraction though. If the money is to be used for "tourism product development" then it should go to something tourist will come and see. Then Taylor says, "Your hands are not tied (to specific usage)," Only our government in Albany could mess this up.

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jglass 1 year, 10 months ago

I just hope they know where the 1% goes instead of it just vanishing.

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Cartman 1 year, 10 months ago

Tax increase with no immediate plans for the income? Then why would you raise the tax? That is incredible.

And to top it off they are still proposing to fund the Riverquarium and Civil Rights Museum. Marietta needs to get a clue and we need to quit feeding these white elephants.

I agree with Langstaff. Put it towards the Civic Center which we are stuck with anyways. It would be fiscally irresponsible to divert any of it towards the RQ or ACRI when the Civic Centers debt must be perpetually met.

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ObjectiveEyes 1 year, 10 months ago

Holy cow! You CANNOT make this kind of crap up! You just can't!

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VSU 1 year, 10 months ago

And we wonder why Albany is in such a mess. Come to think of it, I don't think anybody wonders...I think everybody knows.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

WOW WOW Marietta working so hard to redistribute the wealth. Take money from folks who can afford a hotel room and give it away to CRI, which by the way not even the Black Ministers will support. And the Fish Bowl…well the County was smart enough to flush it out of their taxpayer support years ago. But Marietta is working so hard to waste all that FREE money he can. Great work…. TAX em and they will come!!! NOT …..Not so many years ago Albany was the trade center of SouthWest Ga. Now we are the Tax Capital of SW Ga.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

Hey the people voted Marietta back in so they must think he's smart or something. ; ) He didn't even have a jobs plan. But that's ok cause he made sure Mr. McCoy cannot run against him next time unless McCoy moves back into Ward 4.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

You know what I am talking about Marietta...

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mr_nobody 1 year, 10 months ago

Brilliant. Go ahead and raise tourism taxes. Albany is a real tourist destination, after all.

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jglass 1 year, 10 months ago

The 1% hotel tax should be put to good use. It should not go to the Museum or the Riverquarium. These two places should have to stop depending on the taxpyars to keep them afloat.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 10 months ago

At least the RQ is trying to be self sufficient whereas I haven't seen the CRI do anything to try and raise money. At least the RQ started the Zombie Run, which was very successful. At least they are trying... Just saying...

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 10 months ago

The CRI sent a request to all black churhes in Albany to pledge $100.oo per month so they would not have to ask the city for any money. WELL He!! NOT ONE church would pledge $100.oo NOT ONE....

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rightasrain 1 year, 10 months ago

Yeah, let's put the $ into the "civil rights museum" and keep promoting racism in Albany/DoCo.

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ittybittyme 1 year, 10 months ago

Nobody wants to go here as a tourist or for any other reason....As for Marietta, can't seem to get him on the phone about the personal care home that magically and overnight appeared on Westgate in a nice residential neighborhood...that is causing traffic flow problems and noise issues. We were not informed about this home through any kind of letter. There was no meeting with us residents...boom....it just happened. Cars parking all in the yard and on the street. Folks coming and going all hours of the day and night. When I asked what they were doing at this home I was met by hostile black folks on scrubs and told it was a home for the elderly. All I have seen are little children with backpacks coming and going...no elderly folks and phone calls unreturned from Marietta.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

That doesn't sound right? I hope you check that out thoroughly. The City of Albany doesn't look after taxpayers well at all. I am surprised they do not protect their assets (taxpayers) anybetter.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 10 months ago

And Fletch can't understand why taxpayers are so cynical about Albany. Please! In the first place it is against the law for the city to give a non-profit organization money from tax revenue. The riverquarium belongs to the State of Georgia. The civil rights musuem is a bad joke and deserves to be closed.

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