The Hotel/Motel Tax in the unincorporated parts of Hamilton County will soon be sunsetting and voters are being asked to consider renewing the 5 percent tax in November.
Catherine Bergman, executive director of S.E.E.D., told the board of supervisors Tuesday morning that the hotel/motel is set to expire at the end of 2012. The matter will be on the ballot in November. Bergman stressed to the supervisors and those in the audience that the tax is not a property tax but is collected from guests staying at the rural Hamilton County motels. She said the tax applies to guests at the Best Western Norseman Inn and the Boondocks Motel, both near Williams, and the Briggs Woods Park cabins.
Bergman said funds from the hotel/motel tax are used to increase marketing efforts to boost tourism in the county; to produce printed materials, brochures, guide pamphlets and group tour packets; and for participation in trade show exhibits. The funds are also used to help make physical improvements to facilities and to help market attractions. She said a total of 68 grants had been awarded, totaling 46,900 since 2005, with total projects surpassing $180,000.
"The whole idea of the tax is to put more people in the motels - more guests in the beds," she said.
Bergman said the county has seen a good impact from the tax.
"Our visitor information requests have increased 500 percent. They've gone from 50 in a year to over 1,000 in a year," she said. "We do believe this has been effective and is an important tool to have in our toolbox to bring more people to Hamilton County."
The average annual revenue from the hotel/motel tax in the rural areas is $14,000.
Webster City has passed a 7 percent hotel/motel tax and Bergman said 145 other cities have the tax, with the vast majority choosing a 7 percent rate. There are 16 unincorporated areas in the state that have the tax, she said.
Corinne Sills of Iowa KidsNet asked the board of supervisors for the use of the courthouse on Nov. 17 for the annual Adoption Saturday. She said about 20 to 25 children would be adopted by Iowa families that day. She also said her agency hoped to hold a candlelight vigil in the courthouse parking lot on Nov. 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The supervisors approved both requests.
A contract with Bob Becker Construction of Wesley was signed, awarding the Public Health Building remodeling project to the firm. The construction company submitted the low bid of $263,000 with an anticipated completion date of Dec. 21.
The supervisors approved a contract with Wage Works Inc. to administer the county's 125 benefits plan. The plan was previously handled by AFLAC. Officials said the only noticeable change to the employees is that they will now access benefits through a debit card instead of submitting claims.
An agreement with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for auditing services for the county was approved. The contract terms call for the billing to not exceed $33,400.