Civic and Cultural Development Authority to discuss asking city commission to increase hotel/motel tax.

Shawnee's Civic and Cultural Development Authority in January is expected to discuss asking the City Commission to seek an increase in the hotel and motel tax.

The Authority may take action during its January meeting and ask the commission to call for an increase of three percent more to the five percent hotel/motel tax now in place. Funds from the three percent increase may be directed to the Expo Center.

Authority Chairman Karl Kozel thinks the increase is "a step in the right direction."

The Authority recently discussed the issue after board member Casey Bell provided a proposal.

Any increase in the tax would have to be put before city voters with the commission calling for an election.

Bell noted his proposal is to generate discussion.

Among items included in his proposal were:

The Shawnee City Commissioners explore increasing the Hotel and Motel tax from the current 5 percent to 5.25 percent-5.50 percent. Bell said an increase from 5 percent to 5 percent on an $80 per night hotel/motel room would result in an increase of 40 cents. He added Oklahoma City is currently taxing at 5 1/2 percent while Midwest City is at 5 percent.

He thinks the Authority, City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County should discuss funding and develop a mutually beneficial resolution.

He suggested the Civic and Cultural Development Authority relinquish the request for the annual $600,000 cash infusion ($500,000 operating/$100,000 capital) from the City of Shawnee and in return request the hotel and motel tax be directed to the Authority for support of the Shawnee Expo. The revenue stream would support personnel, operations and marketing, he explained.

He wants the Civic and Cultural Development Authority to seek annual capital improvement funding for the Shawnee Expo from the City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County in the amount of $400,000 ($200,000 from the City of Shawnee and $200,000 from Pottawatomie County). In order to govern the proper use of funds, the Civic and Cultural Development Authority will be required to present annually to the City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County how the funds will be used and how the funds will assist in attracting events to or retaining events at the Shawnee Expo.

Bell suggested in cooperation with the City of Shawnee, the Civic and Cultural Development Authority should seek full control and authority for the Shawnee Expo and any related tourism interests. The Trust should define a clear role and responsibilities. All decisions related to personnel, operations, financial management and marketing should be the responsibility of the Trust. In order to provide reasonable benefits to staff, the Trust should partner with the City of Shawnee and ask for cooperation in that regard.

Authority member Carl Packwood inquired if the county has been asked to budget annually for the Expo. Bell said he hasn't had any conversation with the county in that regard.

Authority member Randy Gilbert asked about marketing and what would happen with the CVB. A consultant, Bill Geist, following a comprehensive review of the CVB at the city's request, has recommended the new Convention and Visitor's Bureau become a stand alone 501(c)(6).

It's been indicated the transition may take up a year to complete. The study also recommends the CVB not be housed at the Expo Center.

City Manager Brian McDougal is also a member of the Authority. He asked "what do we want to be"?

Packwood mentioned that it has never been a goal from when the Expo facility was built for it to be a profit center and pay its own way entirely. He recalled it's been a sales tax generator from the beginning and that was it's intention.

Bell asked "are going to keep on doing what we are doing"? He thinks "if we don't do something, we are going to lose out."

McDougal said he thinks the Authority needs to have money of its own from dedicated funding from both city and county. He suggested leaving alone the 5 percent for the CVB and ask voters for a 3 percent increase for the Expo and ask the county to match it.

McDougal thinks the voters won't have a problem with the increase since it does not impact them unless they stay in a local hotel or motel.

City Commissioner James Harrod said "I'm all for going to 8-8 percent. But if you get one group opposing, you need to have the support of the board and all the others."

It was pointed out "if you keep on doing what you're doing you're going to keep on getting what you're getting."

City Commissioner James Harrod said "I'd like to see the Board made a recommendation supporting the hotel/motel tax increase." Harrod could get his wish next month.