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February 19, 2011

David Goodwin
Wetumpka Herald
Article Source »

County commissioners asked local legislators this week to sponsor a bill permitting them to impose a 4 percent lodging tax in the county.

At a luncheon with five lawmakers representing Elmore County, Commissioner Joe Faulk asked then to present a bill in the March regular session that would allow them to impose the tax.

Faulk coordinates the county’s economic development efforts. The tax, Faulk said, would provide a steady revenue stream for the Elmore County Economic Development Authority.

According to the proposed bill, a “privilege or license tax” would be levied from any business or person engaged in the business of renting or furnishing any room or rooms, lodging or accommodations to transients in any hotel, motel, inn, tourist camp or tourist cabin countywide.

Faulk said Tuesday the tax is estimated to generate more than $300,000. State Rep. Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka), who is also ECEDA’s executive director, was among legislators at the meeting and joined Faulk in requesting the measure.

“That kind of revenue stream will sustain us as we grow,” Faulk said, noting the county is nearing 80,000 residents.

State Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) said it “would be a good thing” if ECEDA could be funded without dipping into the county’s general fund.

Rather than approving the tax at the legislative level, Brewbaker asked that the bill “permissive,” simply granting the commission the power to impose the tax. Due to the lack of home rule, the commission lacks the power to approve revenue generating measures. 

Last year, $250,000 was spent from the general fund to join a River Region partnership that attracted Hyundai Heavy Industries to south Montgomery County.

Faulk said the commission tried to use a lodging tax to fund ECEDA when it was established eight years ago. But opposition from one member of the delegation stopped the bill in its tracks.

The lodging fee, Faulk said, is ideal because “it doesn’t affect us; it affects those who visit the county.”

“Our citizens know the value of economic development and, because of that, (Elmore County) is know as a leader of worldwide economic development,” he said.