ATLANTA -- A hotel/motel tax increase that has lingered in the Georgia House of Representatives for the last week thanks to some political maneuvering among Republicans and Democrats, overwhelmingly passed Wednesday.
House Bill 233 will allow the city of Albany to raise the hotel/motel tax from 7 percent to 8 percent — the level local tourism officials say is the industry standard — a move that will generate around $200,000 per year in new revenues, city officials say.
The bill got caught up in the fallout from a controversial bill offered by the Fulton County delegation, HB 541, that would call for a referendum for Atlanta voters to decide whether to double their homestead tax exemption. If passed by the voters, critics say the exemption would cost Fulton County up to $50 million a year in revenues.
Proponents say that the bill is a local issue that shouldn't become a political issue for the House, arguing that the bill merely calls for a referendum on the change to homestead tax exemptions and is similar to other bills calling for referendums on matters such as consolidation of governments.
HB 541 required a two-thirds majority vote to pass, or 120 votes total. Wednesday, it finally got the 120 votes needed, thanks to Speaker David Ralston, who cast the 120th vote. HB 233 needed only 91 votes to pass and got 120.