By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — A series of bills in the Tennessee General Assembly that sought to increase taxes on hotel and motel patrons in various counties and cities — sponsored mostly by Republicans — appear dead for the year.
By law, these city and county officials can’t impose these kinds of taxes without legislative approval.
Local Government Subcommittee members this week killed bills that would have raised hotel and motel taxes in Wilson County, Columbia, Spring Hill, Lewis County and Fayetteville.
State Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon
None of the bills’ sponsors were immediately available for comment.
State Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, told Tennessee Watchdog last month he didn’t believe enough of his colleagues would support his bill affecting Wilson County.
“It’s my duty to support the local people and do whatever they want. I wasn’t trying to pass judgment as to whether I liked it or didn’t like it. I’m not jumping up and down with any tax increase. I even talked to the tea party people and told them I’m caught this way,” Pody said at the time.
Wilson County commissioners wanted the extra revenue to build what they call the Wilson County Ag Expo Center at the county fairgrounds, described as a venue for trade shows and conventions.
As one might expect, a variety of hotel owners complained loudly to Tennessee Watchdog.
TAXING TRIP: Tennessee legislators appear to have killed a variety of bills that would have imposed higher hotel taxes throughout Tennessee.
“That’s really all we’ve got so far to say at this point in terms of how this money is spent — just on stuff related to tourism,” councilman Mark King said.
Maury County, where Columbia is located, already charges a 5 percent hotel tax; the state sales tax on hotels is 9 percent.
If the additional tax went through, hotel guests would have paid a nearly 20 percent tax on their rooms.
Spring Hill, also in Maury County, would have also raised hotel taxes, also for tourism development, under failed legislation sponsored by State Rep. Sheila Butt, R- Columbia.
Fayetteville would have imposed hotel taxes for tourism development also, under legislation sponsored by state Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville.
Meanwhile, legislation sponsored by Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, would have imposed taxes of 5 percent to 7 percent on hotels, the revenue from which would have gone to that county’s general fund.
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