The Garden City Telegram
9/22/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Tax power

Healthy bed-tax revenue could deliver more good.

One bright spot on the local economic front has been in rising sales-tax income.

And the transient guest tax — also known as the bed tax — has been particularly good to Finney County.

The tax rate paid by motel patrons was raised by the Finney County Commission from 4 to 6 percent in 2010, and as a result dollars collected ballooned from some $341,000 in 2010 to $646,000 in 2011, and even higher in 2012.

Dollars from the bed tax help promote community events through marketing and related endeavors. But considering the amount of tax revenue involved, there's understandable interest in getting even more bang for those bucks.

Representatives of the Finney County Economic Development Corp. recently asked the board of the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau to consider devoting a portion of the bed-tax revenue to economic development efforts.

Garden City lures many visitors because of businesses, and other non-tourism reasons such as education. Local ammonia refrigeration training programs, for example, bring a steady stream of visitors and accomplish the CVB goal of "putting heads in beds."

New business and industry enticed by economic development incentives could build on that good fortune.

That's not to say the many outstanding, local attractions and events don't draw visitors. They do. But knowing so many people also come here to conduct business, it only makes sense to consider the potential of using bed-tax dollars to grow the business community and local tax base.

Along with creating higher-paying jobs the community needs, new business and industry would spur more motel activity and tax revenue — something all involved should want.

Ideally, bed-tax income generated year after year would help the CVB operate effectively and also fund various economic development initiatives. To that end, both organizations should reveal specifics on how those tax dollars would be spent if shared.

The notion of expanded use of the tax receipts as a way to fuel growth has merit. It's an innovative proposal that warrants serious consideration from both the CVB and County Commission, which in the end has an obligation to see all tax revenue used to its full potential.