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Prattville City Council considers lodging fee (Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.)

By Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 04--PRATTVILLE -- The Prattville City Council will consider levying a new lodging fee during tonight's council meeting.

The $1.50 per-hotel-room, per-night fee will be earmarked for capital improvement projects for the city's parks and recreation department, said District 7 Councilwoman Lora Lee Boone, who is sponsoring the move. She also chairs the council's parks and rec committee.

The fee is similar to the $1.50 fee levied by the Montgomery County Commission for hotels in Montgomery County, she said.

"This will bring our hotel fees in line with what is being paid in Montgomery," Boone said. "Prattville citizens will not have to pay this fee, unless they decide to stay in a local hotel for some reason. And our hotel owners and operators won't be charging fees that are higher than the Montgomery market. That allows them to compete on a level playing field."

The majority of the Montgomery lodging fee goes to the county's general fund, with 22 percent going to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce to fund economic development projects, said DiDi Henry, spokeswoman for the county commission.

If passed, the Prattville lodging fee would fuel tourism growth, Boone said. The city needs to upgrade its parks and athletic facilities.

"We envision a time when Prattville will become the go-to location for youth and adult sporting events," she said. "We can host swim meets, ball tournaments and other events. That will bring visitors in from across the state and even across the region.

"They will need a place to stay, so they will pay the $1.50 fee to help support our parks and other facilities. While they are here they will eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. So the entire city will see the benefit of increased tourism."

Hotel guests now staying in Prattville pay a lodging tax totaling 12.5 percent. Prattville levies 8.5 percent, with a portion of the money collected going to the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce to support economic development projects. The state levies the remaining 4 percent.

Last fiscal year, Prattville collected lodging taxes totaling about $1 million, according to records at City Hall.

The proposed lodging fee would raise an estimated $250,000 per fiscal year, based on a sustained occupancy rate of 50 to 60 percent, said Finance Director Doug Moseley.

Also on the agenda is an ordinance that will allow restaurants with on-premise liquor licenses to sell draft beer.


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