A proposed resolution to adopt an ordinance that would have raised the hotel occupancy tax has died.
The Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau Commission met in special session Friday morning to discuss the resolution that was tabled April 26. Executive Director Lynn Dorsey says commission members were not only concerned about public scrutiny, but raising the occupancy tax by two percent is just not what they wanted.
“The state took 15 percent of our state funding during this special session, and we’re concerned they’re going to take more during the next special session,” she said. “We were trying to be proactive about that, and they just decided not to take any action at this time. If the state cuts us back a whole lot more, we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we cross it.”
She says the idea behind the proposed ordinance was to be preemptive in keeping more funding for tourism, and it would have helped the Tax Increment Financing districts the City of Minden is proposing as an economic development incentive.
The Webster CVB will be a part of a consortium that will be put in place as the governing body of the TIF districts, and Minden Economic Development Director James Graham says tourism will play a big part.
“The consortium is a mechanism by which the City of Minden would be able to do the type of economic development similar to that of a private company, because the consortium is a private nonprofit,” he said in a separate interview. “…the consortium is also a mechanism that enables different groups to work together and partner within a certain setting that encourages them to be partners. The consortium reflects the aspirations of the citizens of Minden. Tourism will be our partner in this. This is a very important move in order to encourage tourism in this community. Tourism is a major economic development tool in business.”
Dorsey says this will not affect anything in supporting the TIF districts.
“We’re in total support of it, because I want to see us grow,” she said. “Any taxes that we have to contribute to that, we’ll get back if they build any more hotels. It’s only going to benefit us.”
Dorsey says the budget committee will meet Friday, May 13, to discuss ways to cut back on expenses to keep their budget balanced. They will be looking at areas they can cut, although she says they already run a fairly tight ship.
“We’re just going to sit down and look at our numbers and see what we can crunch,” she said. “Just anticipating if we need to, but we’re not going to change anything for this budget.”
She says the intention of submitting legislation to raise the occupancy tax was to already have it in place, just in case the state cut more of their budget.
“We don’t have to raise the taxes, but we would just have it in place to do it,” she said. “We wanted it in place so we could do that if we got into a jam.”
The budget committee will meet at 1:30 p.m., at the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, located at 110 Sibley Road.