Salisbury gets OK to add tax on hotel stays
By Jessie Burchette
The occupancy tax charged to hotel guests in Salisbury will likely double in the near future.
The N.C. General Assembly passed legislation that allows the city to create a Salisbury Tourism Development Authority and set a tax of up to 3 percent.
The Rowan County Tourism Develoment Authority already collects 3 percent on motel and hotels countywide. Most of the $317,000 collected in 2008 came from motels and hotels in Salisbury.
In March, the Salisbury City Council opted to seek legislation to allow the tax after the Rowan County Board of Commissioners decided not to increase the countywide tax to 6 percent ó the maximum allowed in most North Carolina counties. County officials cited the economy in deciding it wasn’t a good time to increase costs for visitors.
Instead of seeking special legislation, Salisbury’s taxing authority was tacked on to a Murfreesboro Occupancy Tax bill, Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Sen. Ed Jones, Democrat who represents several eastern counties including Bertie, Chowan and Gates.
The bill filed in February went through several transformations before being approved by the N.C. Senate before it adjourned Thursday.
Rep. Lorene Coates reportedly handled the issue for Salisbury.
The legislation provides for the City Council to levy and collect the tax and appoint a Salisbury Tourism Develoment Authority to spend the money. At least two thirds of the money must be used to promote travel and tourism in Salisbury and the remainder must be used for tourism-related expenditures that will increase the use of lodging facilities, meeting facilities and draw tourists and business travelers to the city.
Mayor Susan Kluttz said Friday it will most likely be September before the City Council takes up the tax and creating the Tourism Authority.
“We want to hear staff recommendations,” Kluttz said. “We want to take our time and do it right.”
Kluttz credited Coates with getting the city measure tacked on to the Murfreesboro bill.
Kluttz also noted that Rowan County can still vote to enact a 6 percent occupancy tax in all other areas of the county except the city of Salisbury, pointing to potential growth in such places as Kannapolis.
James Meacham, executive director of the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority, sees the additional tax as a positive. “It will be more money for marketing and tourism. That’s a good thing for Rowan County.”
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.