Commissioners seek to bolster Fort Belknap with hotel tax
Young County Commissioners Court voted 4:1 to approve the collection of a Hotel Occupancy Tax to benefit tourism at Fort Belknap. It will take effect on January 1.
The resolution adopts a 2 percent tax within the incorporated limits of Graham and a 5 percent tax throughout the rest of Young County, including Possum Kingdom.
Hotel Occupancy Taxes give the state, municipalities and counties the ability to tax stays at hotels, bed and breakfasts and other tourist lodgings.
The taxes collected are then used to promote tourism through specific avenues like convention centers, chambers and advertising. The funds can also be used to restore or rehabilitate historic sites and museums.
The simple idea behind the tax is that overnight tourists anticipate entertainment and sightseeing opportunities. Based on their lodging costs, a small percentage goes toward providing and maintaining those tourist attractions.
“Once we install the tax and get the money flowing into the account, it will be 2019 before we think about spending any dollars,” said County Commissioner Mike Sipes. “We will be spending money collected rather than money that was promised.”
According to Sipes, supporting the fort through the tax is not only something Young County should pass, but “needs to pass.”
Sipes, who worked closely with the Graham Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated that $75,000 could be collected yearly in Young County. Of that, $50,000 could come solely from the anticipated 2 percent hotel tax within Graham.
The cities of Graham and Olney already collect a hotel occupancy tax to support tourism within their cities. Both collect 7 percent—though the court understood Olney to only collect 4 percent at the time. Texas also collects an additional 6 percent.
It was unclear to some commissioners whether there remained any taxing room left after calculating the state and municipal rates. If the 2 percent anticipated for Graham, and the erroneous 5 percent for Olney were off the table, then the vast majority of the $75,000 in funding for Fort Belknap would be gone.
However, the court approved the resolution with the expectation of amending it if the numbers were incorrect. Commissioners plan to research the maximum tax rate allowed within the city limits and will amend the resolution to state the allowed amount. Commissioner Stacey Rogers was the only commissioner to vote against the resolution but he only objected to passing it with “questionable numbers”.