The Garden City Telegram

Tax talk

FCEDC, CVB have cause to collaborate on plan.

Recent discussion over a proposal to share some sales tax income in Finney County didn't bring change in how the dollars would be spent.

But the exchange regarding use of the transient guest tax — better known as the bed tax — did advance discussion of an issue that warrants public attention.

At Monday's Finney County Commission meeting, representatives of the Finney County Economic Development Corp. and Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau discussed an FCEDC proposal to put bed tax dollars to use in economic development initiatives.

It's an intriguing idea. FCEDC representatives rightly pointed to Finney County's ability to draw people on business in making a case for using a portion of the bed tax funds for incentives to lure new business prospects. However, the CVB — currently recipient of all bed tax revenue — cited concerns, including whether an upward trend in the income would continue and provide enough funding to go around.

After the tax rate paid by motel patrons was raised by the county commission from 4 to 6 percent in 2010, bed tax receipts soared from some $341,000 in 2010 to $646,000 in 2011, and higher in 2012.

Addressing uncertainty regarding the future of those funds, the FCEDC pitched a sensible solution: Establish a reserve fund that could be used by either entity, with county commissioners having oversight of spending. That way, the CVB still would have ample funding for tourism-related ventures geared toward events and attractions that bring people to town.

During the discussion, Finney County Commissioner Cliff Mayo also urged the groups to not clash over the issue.

Indeed, divisiveness won't help the community move forward. The groups did vow to discuss the idea in more detail, which was a good sign.

In the end, the FCEDC and CVB have the same goal in bringing more people to the community, whether for work or play.

The groups should sit down and craft a plan to maximize the bed tax in a way that benefits all involved. A county commission ultimately responsible for prudent spending of the public's tax dollars should insist that they accomplish as much.