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Letter: County council must pass innkeeper’s tax

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Daily Journal.

To the editor:

I urge the county council to pass the proposed innkeeper’s tax.

As a 37-year resident, I know this is a nice place to live. However, we do not readily share that fact. As a retired business executive experienced in marketing, human resources and recruitment/retention of talent, I know that keeping our good points a secret hurts us. It limits desirable growth and development.

We need a champion publicizing our community. This proposal would provide that champion to promote our county as a great place to live, work and play.

Here is my thinking and why I like this proposal:

It is a communitywide approach covering the whole county  — not focused just on Greenwood or Franklin. Pulling in all areas increases effectiveness and efficiency, lessens redundancy and aids entities throughout

the county.

Visitors to our community do not have an easy time finding out what is here. As a community, more consideration and convenience for our visitors and newcomers would benefit everyone. As an example: Three-day soccer tournaments bring several hundred families here each year. They seek overnight accommodations, places to eat and other activities to pursue while here. Currently we cannot offer a handy website or other comprehensive info source to readily assist them. This is just one of many opportunities to promote Johnson County businesses that we fail to capitalize on, ones that would help our local economy.

It seems unfair to me that we pay this tax as we travel and stay overnight elsewhere across the U.S. Our dollars benefit their locales, yet nothing comes back here to benefit our economy. It seems rather like a trade imbalance. In Indiana, 71 other counties have enacted it, including all central Indiana counties, except us. As for being competitive within our region, with Marion County at 10 percent and surrounding counties from

5 percent to 8 percent, we would still be competitive at 5 percent. (Only Hancock is at 4 percent, and a 1 percentage point difference would not be sufficient to alter visitors’ travel plans).

I question the conjecture that hotels would suffer overall loss of business and revenue. I have seen no real evidence offered to that effect. On the other hand, independent research shows the tax actually has a beneficial effect via the marketing it funds. Thus, the real question seems to be: How much would their business increase if more people knew Johnson County hotels and attractions existed? An upward spiral seems likely. As more people see our county as a desirable destination, as more businesses see it as a desirable location — one that appeals to the talented workers they need — the better for hotels and attractions.

I am pleased the new agency would be a nonprofit. It would not add more government workers/bureaucracies. Its budget and spending would be limited to only what monies are collected from guests renting hotel rooms. How much it has to spend is dependent upon how successful its marketing has been. The more rooms filled, the more money generated. I like this “earn your keep, pay as you go” setup.

For all these reasons, I urge the county council to pass the proposed innkeeper’s tax without delay.

In today’s world, if we are not moving forward, we are falling further behind.

Cindy Lorentson Cook


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