Monmouth adds lodging tax

MONMOUTH -- Visitors to Monmouth will pay more for a hotel room this year.

MONMOUTH -- Visitors to Monmouth will pay more for a hotel room this year.

The city council adopted an ordinance last week which adds a 9 percent transient lodging tax on top of the listed rate for hotels, motels, rooming homes and any other dwelling intended for occupancy of 30 days or less.

Of course, with only one motel in Monmouth, the 35-unit Courtsey Inn at 270 N. Pacific Ave., officials aren't anticipating a revenue windfall, said Hal Schilling, former Interim City Manager.

Still, the tax is common nationwide and Monmouth was one of very few cities in Oregon not levying it, Schilling said. It's also an intial step that could boost future tourism, he said.

At least 70 percent of the collected revenue must go toward tourism or tourism-related facilities, while 30 percent or less could be allocated to the city's general fund, according to state statute.

Lodging operators are allowed 5 percent for administration costs. The tax takes effect in April, though officials have not settled on distribution ratios.

(The local tax will be in addition to a current 1 percent state tax which allocates money to the Oregon Tourism Commission.)

Schilling said the tax is a resource that could pay for programs and partnerships between the city, Western Oregon University or other entities to promote local tourism.

Ishwar Bhavan, who has owned and operated the Courtesy Inn since the late 1980s, was the sole voice of opposition during a public hearing on the issue last week.

"This definitely will have a negative effect on our business for the simple fact that noboly really likes to pay taxes," he said. "Our customer base is repeat business ... and this is going to be shock for our returning customers.

He added that with the new tax, he loses what small advantage he had to offer customers. "We're in a wine country area," he said, pointing out that the tax eliminates any reason for tourists to stay in Monmouth over any other place.

Bhavan said that the tax makes sense for larger communities, "but when you have one property with 35 units, I don't know how much revenue you're hoping to generate."

Independence also levies the 9 percent tax. And like Monmouth, it has only one lodging provider - the three-room Independence House bed and breakfast.

Innkeeper Cheryl Gaston said it has no affect on her business.

"This is a typical tax you would find anywhere else in the United States," she said.

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