Lowell Council passes balanced budget; new hotel and restaurant tax passes

New hotel and restaurant tax passes

Posted: November 22, 2017 at 1:05 a.m.

LOWELL -- The city will enter the new year with a balanced budget and a hotel/motel and restaurant tax.

The City Council passed the 2018 budget and the new tax during a meeting Tuesday night. Gross receipts of hotel and motel accommodations will be taxed 2 percent, and selling prepared food and beverages will be taxed 2 percent also.

Mayor Eldon Long said the hotel, motel and restaurant tax will not be implemented until it's had a chance to go through the Benton County clerk and state procedures. The state will notify the city once collection begins.

"Last time we brought this up, we had meetings to educate the public," Long said to a largely empty council chambers. Some residents mistakenly thought then that the tax would be on the local businesses. Long emphasized that the tax is similar to what other cities do to gather money to pour into city advertising and promotion.

Alderman Thomas Evers asked whether software involved was inclusive for businesses, which Long confirmed. Alderman Linda Vannoy questioned whether the city would be notifying the businesses affected, but Long said that was also the state's responsibility.

Alderman Kendell Stucki asked whether the matter would go to a public vote, which Long denied. A committee will be formed to address how the money is used, Long said. City attorney Tom Kieklak assured the council the money will go toward promotion of the city and he'll oversee the committee.

The 2018 budget, which has $8.8 million in the general fund, will account for three new vehicles for city business, creating a police position, 12 firefighter positions and one a fire station, said Finance Director Jerry Hudlow. The new station will be at Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park at the corner of Bellview Street and Zion Church Road.

"It's always exciting to get a new year's budget when it's balanced and there's a surplus," Long said. "The challenge was creating 12 firefighter positions while also accounting for a 3 percent wage increase for city employees, but we got it done with the help of Jerry and the City Council."

Alderman Stucki applauded the existence of a surplus this year. Council members had no other discussion since preliminary budget meetings answered any questions and concerns.

NW News on 11/22/2017