The Cherokee County Commissioners went over their transient tax raise with hotel and business owners Monday at the courthouse.
Legal Counselor Kevin Cure explained how the tax increase would not apply to existing business owners but rather to new hotels that may be built in the county.
“Your transient taxes will remain the same,” said Cure. “New hotels coming in will pay a maximum of 6 percent if they are located in the county. Hotels located in municipalities will pay whatever the city transient taxes are and 2 percent to the county.”
Currently Columbus charges 4 percent and Baxter Springs charges 8 percent.
“Our total tax package including sales taxes is 13.8 percent,” said Mel and Laura Lowry Greene of Columbus. “We don’t want that to go any higher.”
Local businesses are hard pressed to compete with casino hotel rates that have very low tax rates.
“Downstream and Buffalo Run Casinos only pay modest tribal taxes of 2.25 – 10 percent. They don’t pay any state transient or sales taxes at all.”
Very upset with the idea of high tax packages is Amy Sanell of Café on the Route bed and breakfast in Baxter Springs.
“Our total taxes including transient and sales are 17.8 percent. “That is higher than Times Square in New York.”
Currently Baxter Springs charges 8 percent on their transient bed tax.
“I am so glad the county is not going to raise what we have to pay any more,” said Sanell. “We still need to get Baxter Springs to lower theirs down to competitive levels.”
The commission wants to make tax packages to current an incoming business owner’s uniform.
“It isn’t fair that a new hotel owner, located in the county should only have to pay $2 percent transient taxes,” said Commission Chairman Richard Hilderbrand. “The current proposal will require them to pay 6 percent and level the playing field for all hotel owners.”
In road and bridge business the supervisors reported that they were progressing on road repairs as fast as the weather would let them.