Monday, February 26, 2024

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Elon to hold Feb. 13 hearing on proposed municipal hotel tax

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Elon’s town council has decided to hold a public hearing next month on a municipal hotel tax that would raise money for tourism-related programs within the town’s municipal borders.

The council has agreed to conduct this hearing on February 13 in order to let residents weigh in on this proposed 3-percent levy, which the N.C. General Assembly has agreed to let Elon and three other area communities enact as a stimulant to the local tourism trade.

Known formally as a “room occupancy tax,” this prospective new impost would be assessed on hotels and motels in each participating city or town alongside an extant countywide tax that’s set at the same 3-percent rate. But unlike the county’s existing surcharge, whose proceeds are split between Alamance County’s own government and a local visitors and convention bureau, the revenue from this new occupancy tax would go directly to the municipalities where the hotels are located.

These funds could then be used to promote tourism and, to a lesser degree, to subsidize programs and facilities that bring visitors into the community.

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Of the four municipalities that are allowed to collect this new tax, the city of Burlington is the only one that has, so far, availed itself of state legislature’s authority. Earlier this month, Burlington’s city council formally voted to enact this 3-percent levy after a public hearing of its own drew nary a peep from the community.

The Burlington council also approved the creation of a municipal tourism development authority that will be responsible for distributing the proceeds from the new tax so as to ensure that each participating city or town gets only the revenue raised from its own hotels and motels.

The only business in Elon that the town expects to pay the new impost is the rather aptly named Inn at Elon – an establishment affiliated with the town’s eponymous university.

The inn is reportedly the only location in Elon that has contributed to the county’s occupancy tax since the Acorn Inn was repurposed for student housing. Yet, this solitary enterprise is expected to bring in $110,000 based on the revenue it already generates through the county’s 3-percent levy

During a discussion about this proposed levy on Monday, Elon’s town manager Richard Roedner conceded that the town would be somewhat constrained in what it can do with the haul from the new occupancy tax. Roedner emphasized that state regulations demand that two thirds of these funds go toward the promotion of travel and tourism.

He added, however, that eligible outlays may include such things as new welcome signs at Elon’s municipal limits and perhaps even floral plantings to spruce up these entrances.

In either case, the prospect of this new tax seemed reasonable enough to councilmember Stephanie Bourland.

[Story continues below.]

Elon town council member Stephanie Bourland

“It may not be a lot of money to start with, but I think it can really make Elon a destination, and not just a pitstop.”

– Elon town council member Stephanie Bourland

“I see this as a great opportunity,” Bourland declared before she and her colleagues unanimously voted to hold next month’s public hearing. “I think this is money that we can really utilize not just for the town of Elon but also for the university…and it may not be a lot of money to start with, but I think it can really make Elon a destination, and not just a pitstop.”


IN OTHER ELON TOWN NEWS:

Council divided, but on 3-2 vote gives 5 percent raise to town employees: https://alamancenews.com/in-rare-3-2-split-vote-elon-town-council-approves-5-mid-year-raises/

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