At Tuesday’s Columbus City Council meeting the director of the Columbus Chamber of Commerece Jean Pritchett objected to an increase in the local transient guest tax.
Currently Cherokee County charges 2 percent on top of the city’s 4 percent for a total of 6 percent, not including additional sales taxes. The counties 2 percent tax is targeted toward tourism.
“The Cherokee County Commissioners are considering an additional 6 percent for a total of 8 percent,” said Pritchett. “If we add that to the city’s 4 percent ,that will total up to 12 percent. I think that is too high.”
Pritchett compared the local transient or bed tax to other states and communities.
“In Miami the total amount is 4 percent and the same amount is in Pittsburg. Where do you think motel customers are going to go to?”
“I don’t want to create a situation where our local businesses suffer from too high of a tax,” she said. “A 6 percent increase is just too much.”
Several councilmen and city officials agreed with her.
“What are they going to use the money for,” asked City Administrator Evan Capron? “I would like to know that too,” said Grant Spieth.”
“It’s supposed to go for tourism,” Pritchett said.
Both Columbus and Baxter Springs receive $2500 each from the county for their tourism budgets.
“We use ours for pamphlet purchases, maps and advertising,” said Pritchett. “We also use it to promote Southeast Kansas in trade shows.”
By law, the 4 percent transient bed tax in Columbus and also the separate bed tax in Baxter Springs are supposed to go for tourism as well.
Pritchett also discussed Galena becoming part of the county transient tax group.
“Ortho-4-States is looking at putting up a hotel near their location,” she added.
The county commission has asked city officials to attend the coming commission meeting on Monday to discuss the raise in the bed tax. Several councilmen expressed interest in attending.
In other news the council accepted the minutes from condemnation hearings on Jan. 4. The council will proceed with demolition of the house at 414 South Florida. They dismissed demolition of 327 North Florida and 712 East Walnut.
The city accepted two appropriation ordinances and discussed portable parking structures at Big Ds.
“These are carports that can be moved,” said Councilman Dewey Smith. “The owner is asking permission to put them on city easements,” said Capron.
Mayor Marie Nepple discussed that with the council.
“We don’t want to create a situation where everyone will be asking to put temporary structures on city easements,” she said.
The council decided to have the streets committee look at the request and make a recommendation to the council.
The audit fee of $9565 was discussed. Councilman Jerri Burton motioned to approve the expense. Councilman Doug Hosier seconded the motion. The motion was carried with the dissenting vote of David Morrison.
Snow removal priorities were discussed and the council determined to have a work session with the streets committee and a following but separate street committee meeting to make a recommendation based on the input from the work session.
“We will have the work session on Thursday Jan 28 at 7:30 p.m.,” said Street Committee Chairman Steve Dunlap. “Our committee meeting will immediately follow at 8:00 p.m.”
The personnel committee will meet on the same evening at 6:30 p.m. to discuss step salary increases. Both meetings will be held in the Columbus City meeting room.