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Council to discuss
room tax hike

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

The Decatur City Council will consider Monday an ordinance that will increase the local room-occupancy tax by 50 cents.

If it passes, the daily surcharge for a room in Decatur will increase from $1.50 to $2 as early as Sept. 1.

According to Donna Oliver, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association, the ordinance comes at the request of local hospitality business owners.

Since its inception in 2001, she said, the room fee has generated more than $1.83 million, contributing greatly to local tourist draws like Ingalls Harbor and Hospitality Park.

"There are a lot more plans to expand tourism development," she said.

"This is just going to help us get to where we need to be a little bit quicker."

To date, the $1.50 fee has funded $300,000 annually to Ingalls Harbor. It has also been used to complete a $15,000 tourism study.

The ordinance is listed on the agenda for the next council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers.

During a City Council work session Monday, Mayor Don Kyle expressed concerns that the increased cost of a hotel room in Decatur may price local lodging too high for some governmental conventions.

After speaking with local hotel owners Tuesday, he said those concerns had been alleviated.

"This is an effort to bring more people into our city," Oliver said.

"We know we're a corporate city, but the tourism helps enhance that business."

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