Public Safety Building housing Council Chambers, Yelm
The Yelm City Council approved this evening the establishment of a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (Adopting Ordinance No. 993), defining the duties and functions of the committee and to declare an effective date.
Any county, city or town that has imposed the hotel/motel (lodging) tax and has a population of 5,000 or more is required to establish and maintain a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee per RCW 67.28.1817. The committees membership must be a minimum of five members confirmed by the Council and made up of equal number of business members of the community that collect the tax and eligible agencies that request funding from the revenue collected from the tax, including any municipality, used directly or indirectly through convention, visitors bureau or destination marketing.
One member shall be an elected official of the municipality who shall serve as chair of the committee,” quoting the City of Yelm Staff Report.
While the current lodging tax fund has a balance of $167,000, Mayor Harding announced his views on how this tax should be disseminated, however the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will choose such. Therefore, the mayor’s opinion of how the tax should be used is NOT pertinent. The purpose of state law in this committee being required is to prevent a situation where a mayor uses his “bully pulpit” to be dictatorial and intimidating on collected tax usage. I hope Mr. Harding is not the elected official to serve as chair of the committee, as there are 7 capable council members to fulfill this role.
Interestingly, Mayor Pro-tem Bob Isom, who rarely takes public issue with the mayor, presented a very good point in saying:
One of the requirements is a minimum of two members who are representatives of businesses required to collect the lodging tax. Now I see an issue here because weve only got one business [that collects the tax, Prairie Hotel].
Mayor Harding disagreed and even after he thought a business could have more than one representative on the Lodging Tax Committee, Isom still expressed his concerns.
To resolve this issue,
City Administrator Shelly Badger said the citys attorney would be consulted for an opinion before committee members are selected.
Bravo to Mr. Isom, as his point is one issue on which I agree. And good for him in not swallowing Mayor Harding’s opinion “hook, line and sinker!”