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bed tax Hotel owners fear an increase



Published: Tue, February 28, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Karl Henkel

and Peter H. MILLIKEN

news@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Area hotel owners are fearful an increase in Mahoning County’s bed tax could hurt their business, but at least one county commissioner favors increasing the tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

“We need an economic- development engine,” said Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, referring to the Western Reserve Port Authority, which would receive most of the increase.

WPRA, which is funded by Mahoning and Trumbull counties, operates the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

The overall hotel room tax here would increase from 12.75 percent to 14.75 percent.

That tax currently consists of a 6.75 percent combined state and county sales tax, a 3 percent county bed tax, and 3 percent bed taxes in Canfield, Austintown, Boardman and Beaver townships.

Righetti said last spring she was opposed to raising the bed tax because of the county’s poor economic conditions.

She said she has changed her mind, however, because she is now convinced that increasing the tax will help the port authority promote county economic development.

“I want to get it done,” Righetti said, adding that she would like the commissioners to vote on the increase at their 10 a.m. Wednesday meeting.

Two business prospects she declined to name want to locate in Mahoning, and she wants the port authority to provide economic development assistance to them, she said.

Last spring, Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti said he was opposed to a bed tax increase; and John A. McNally IV, chairman of the commissioners, was noncommittal. Neither returned calls seeking comment Monday.

If the county raises its bed tax to 5 percent, the port authority’s share would go from 2 percent to 3.5 percent and the Mahoning County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau from 1 percent to 1.5 percent, Righetti said.

That is identical to the manner in which Trumbull County divides its 5 percent bed tax, she said, though it would go against Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s legal opinion from last year that stated commissioners could raise the county’s hotel and motel bed tax, but that any extra money raised must go to WRPA and not the CVB.

In 2010, Mahoning County’s bed tax raised $744,559, with $255,460 going to the CVB and $489,099 going to the port authority.

If enacted, the tax hike would make Mahoning County’s hotel room tax higher than most nearby regions, including Pittsburgh (14 percent), Kent (12.75), Canton (12) and Grove City (9), said David Kovass of the Meander Hospitality Group.

“If everyone is driving to this area and stopping off in Youngstown, what’s going to stop them from driving an extra 20 minutes and staying in Hermitage?” he said.

Raising the bed tax hinders business, Kovass said, because many hotels along the Ohio Turnpike receive a lot of “negotiated business” from travel agencies.

Lower occupancy rates, which in 2011 were about 55 percent at the county’s 33 hotels and motels, would also result in smaller staff sizes, Kovass said.

Righetti said the hotel industry should not be surprised.

“They have not been blind-sided,” she said. The Mahoning County Commissioners have discussed the possibility of raising the bed tax in public staff meetings in recent months with CVB and port authority representatives present, she said.


Comments

1ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

What is this obsession that our politicians have for that damn airport? We have THREE large full service airports within an hour's drive from Youngstown, we do not need the Youngstown airport at all! This bed ta money could be redirected to other projects that might actually help the cities instead of keeping the lights on in an empty building out in the corn fields.

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2tookie(64 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Three questions to ponder from this story. What has the WRPA done in the last two years regarding economic development? Appears the answer is virtually nothing. And I thought this bed tax money was suppose to be for the airport operations not economic development. Do they have to get legislative approval to move it to economic development? Lastly, what plan do they have to spend the money or is it open ended?

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3legend33(169 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Long live Verb's black hole!!

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4commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

What does the airport have to do with the bed tax??? Shouldn't the bed tax benifit getting more people the area by promoting more busineses to move here?

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5valleyred(1100 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

You guys continue to rip the airport, but the stats do not lie, that place is moving in the right direction. Previous reports have stated the airport is close to getting daily airline service once again. Other construction continues at the facility with more planned this spring and summer.

Image: http://i.imgur.com/bVMsd.jpg

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