Measure to hike county Innkeeper’s tax tabled

Local News

Allen County Council listens to opposition to a measure to increase the Innkeeper’s tax during a meeting Thursday, July 18, 2019.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A push to increase Allen County’s Innkeeper’s tax that has been five years in the making will have to wait at least another month.

Allen County Council on Thursday tabled a request from Visit Fort Wayne to increase the county’s Innkeeper’s tax from 7 percent to 8 percent. After a discussion that lasted 1 hour, 20 minutes, council voted 4-3 to push off a decision.

Visit Fort Wayne hopes to take advantage of an increase to the tax guests at motels pay to reap additional revenue that will go toward marketing and promotion of events in the county. The increase is expected to raise an additional $750,000, according to Gary Shearer, president and CEO of PHP, who is the chair of Visit Fort Wayne’s Innkeeper’s tax committee.

Shearer said Visit Fort Wayne first pitched the plan to increase the Innkeeper’s tax in late 2013 as part of its strategic plan. The effort began to develop in 2015, but it wasn’t until earlier this year when language became a bill at the Statehouse.

Legislators offered a twist, though: county council must pass an ordinance to increase the Innkeeper’s tax, Shearer explained.

In Allen County, such a measure has been publicly supported by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., the Allen County Commissioners, and the Northeast Indiana Hospitality Association.

“We are in need of additional funding to make us competitive with cities throughout the nation of a similar size, but also to make us competitive within the state of Indiana,” said Shearer.

Shearer said through Fort Wayne is the second largest city in Indiana, Visit Fort Wayne has the 8th largest budget in the state. The agency is behind smaller cities like Evansville and Columbus, he said. Visit Fort Wayne has less than 25 percent of budget of the tourism outfit in Grand Rapids, he added.

“Allen County deserves to be promoted,” Shearer said.

Several people spoke on behalf of the measure championed by Visit Fort Wayne head Dan O’Connell, including Memorial Coliseum General Manager Randy Brown.

County Council will discuss the measure again in August.

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