Waukon voters to decide if current hotel/motel tax should be raised to State maximum in City Election

With the City Election Tuesday, November 7, residents of Waukon will be revisiting the Hotel and Motel Tax issue currently in place in Waukon by voting to keep the tax rate at four percent or raise it to a State-allowed maximum rate of seven percent. The hotel and motel tax may have created some confusion due to the nature of the tax, which was enacted to benefit residents by taxing short-term lodging, 31 days or less, including hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments. In other words, this is a tax affecting visitors to the area staying in a hotel or other short-term lodging, not a tax to be paid by residents of the local community; unless, of course, they complete a stay in one of those local lodging facilities.

Waukon City Manager Dean Hilgerson commented that this tax is commonly known as a lodging tax, city tax or hotel/motel tax, depending on the municipality. He says that cities have used this tax per Iowa Code for years to enhance recreation, tourism and economic development. Hilgerson indicated that at least 50% of the funds raised by the tax need to be used for recreation and tourism to the advantage of city residents and that Iowa Code allows up to a seven percent tax rate to maximize this resource, with Waukon currently at just a four percent rate.

Waukon City Clerk Al Lyon indicated that under the current Hotel Motel Tax Resolution No. 2491, enacted January 1, 2012 in Waukon, 75% of the revenues are used for park and recreation programs and facilities, and the remaining 25% is designated for economic development and tourism. Lyon said that hotel/motel tax funds are used for project specific expenses, not salaries, and that other potential uses could include downtown revitalization and creation of other possibilities that might include seed money or yearly payments for sidewalk projects.

This measure will appear on the ballot as Public Measure A: "Shall the City of Waukon, Iowa, be authorized to increase its hotel and motel tax from the rate of four percent (4%) to a rate of seven percent (7%), effective January 1, 2018, which shall be used by the City as provided in Iowa Code Chapter 423A?" Voters in the city of Waukon will simply mark the "Yes" box to increase the hotel/motel tax to seven percent, or mark the "No" box to leave that tax at its current rate of four percent.

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