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Hotel Tax Increase Should Boost Local Business, Officials Hope

The Port Washington Common Council approved an ordinance increasing the hotel/motel tax for the city in hopes of generating more money to use for marketing to tourists.

Officials unanimously approved an ordinance increasing Port Washington's hotel/motel tax on Tuesday night in hopes of bringing in an extra $30,000 to use for marketing of the city.

The increase moves the tax from 7 percent to 8 percent; the additional funds will go to the Port Washington Tourism department for use in promoting the city, with target markets stressed by council members including Iowa and Chicago.

 "My hope is … we can be creative with some of those different funding resources that (are) not currently available to us," Mlada said at an earlier meeting when the idea was introduced. "We need to utilize the people that have been coming to our city."

Tourists from these and other markets that visit Port Washington impact many individuals — including local business owners. Officials are hopeful the program will be succesful enough that the tax can be reduced again after some time.

"The extra one percent is supposed to produce a benefit to the city — which, if it does, there will be an increase of rooms rented and (more money)," Ald. Jim Vollmar said, adding that at that time the tax could drop because additional money would still be coming in from additional rooms.

Vollmar initially suggested the idea of putting a 3-year expiration date on the increase with this in mind, which other council members supported — but some worries about that idea arose.

City Administrator Mark Grams pointed out that it is possible the same aldmermen would not still sit on the board in three years, and, even if they did, remembering that this was set to expire could be tricky; if the council forgot, they could end up owing money back.

Instead, Grams suggested that the issue be looked at during the annual budget process, because it's always reviewed at that time of year anyway.

"For simplicity of this, I agree with Mark," Ald. Doug Biggs said. "While I appreciate the suggestion from Ald. Vollmar, I think its prudent for us to just maintain a vigil watch on it during budget time … not necessarily (add a sunset) which will force action."

Terry December 05, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Is this another idea from one of our Mayor's highly efficient sixteen person blue ribbon committees? Because this is an awful idea. We have spent the last few decades driving meaningful commercial enterprises to Saukville and Grafton under the name of preserving our "quaint New England charm". Now when we realize that nobody does come to Port, our solution is to raise taxes on those that do to try to sell a city that just doesn't have that much to draw people here. Awesome plan. Thumbs up.
Ken December 06, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I believe these types of ideas should be remembered around election time as often our candidates for these offices do not identify themselves as republican or democrat. However, these ideas reveal their true colors and once the tax happy Democrats get going it's difficult to stop them. Port has always been a nice oasis from the high tax communities in SE Wisconsin, so we must work hard to keep it that way.
Tom Kamenick December 06, 2012 at 12:47 PM
"Hotel Tax Increase Should Boost Local Business, Officials Hope." So.... you're taxing something in hopes of getting more of it. I think Port officials need some basic economic lessons.
Greg Huegerich December 07, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Maybe they could tax all of the illegal gaming machines in the area instead? That's one of the few areas where I think some oversight and regulation could do some good. The problem is, it seems to be a buddy-buddy situation with the guy selling them and the council.
Terry December 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Uselding? Also known as Little Vegas? Oh, yea. He knows people. Good point. If our local government seems unconcerned by these gambling machines, why not tax those instead?

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