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BENTONVILLE -- Visitors may see higher room rates if the Advertising and Promotions Commission and City Council agree to increase the lodging tax from 2 percent to 3 percent.

The commission discussed what the change would look like at its meeting Thursday. The four commissioners present -- Chris Sooter, Matt McClure, Mark Hufford and Lee Culpepper -- decided to table the idea since there were three commissioners -- Todd Darouse, Josh Morey and Chad Goss -- absent from the meeting.

Next meeting

The next Advertising and Promotions Commission meeting will be at 4 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Visit Bentonville office at 104 E. Central Ave.

There will be no meeting in October.

Source: Staff report

Bentonville has a 2 percent tax on lodging and 1 percent tax on restaurants and prepared food. State law allows up to 3 percent on each.

The 1 percent increase to the lodging tax would be about a $400,000 increase to Visit Bentonville's $2.1 million budget, according to Kalene Griffith, president and CEO.

The majority of that increase could be used to help the Parks and Recreation Department implement aspects of its master plan, to meet money requests for events and to help build capital improvement projects in the city, she said, explaining any project or event funded with Advertising and Promotions dollars need to help increase tourism to the city.

There's a lot of momentum in the community, and this is an opportunity to accelerate that, said Commissioner Lee Culpepper.

The tax wouldn't burden city residents unless they were staying in a hotel, said Chairman Chris Sooter.

Commissioners discussed it may affect businesses, such as Wal-Mart, who have employees that often travel to town for business, but that the extra money generated from the tax would help support amenities and events that help recruit business and talented employees to the area.

This discussion comes two months after Rogers raised its hotel tax from 2 percent to 3 percent so Visit Rogers could boost its advertising efforts. Rogers doesn't have a restaurant tax.

Lower taxes has put Rogers at a disadvantage in competing with cities such as Fayetteville and Bentonville who have larger Advertising and Promotion budgets, J.R. Shaw, president of Visit Rogers and a senior vice president of the chamber, said in July.

The hotel tax increase will boost the budget to promote the city from about $850,000 to nearly $1.2 million, according to Rogers Mayor Greg Hines. The city has been supplementing the advertising budget by about $100,000 annually for the past several years.

Bentonville isn't entertaining the tax increase because Rogers did it, Sooter said.

"But I think it does allow us the flexibility to entertain it because it won't put us at a competitive disadvantage," he said.

Griffith said she'd like the commission to vote on the tax increase at its Nov. 2 meeting. The commission will be asked to approve next year's budget at its Dec. 2 meeting.

If approved, the tax increase would then head to City Council for approval, ideally at its Nov. 21 meeting so the 30-day waiting period for an ordinance to become effective lapses in December, making January the first full month the tax will be implemented, officials said.

NW News on 09/29/2017

Print Headline: Visit Bentonville entertains tax increase

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