City to conduct business impact study for raising room tax rate
Carson City will prepare a business impact statement for the board of supervisors to determine the effect of raising the city’s room tax rate by 3 percent.
Supervisor Molly Walt asked for the study. The purpose of the additional funding would be to encourage more activity for the city’s lodging properties during the slow season.
Jonathan Boulware, general manager of Gold Dust West, said members of the lodging group were opposed to the rate increase idea in 2009 because “the economic environment just didn’t support it,” but by the summer of 2010, it became more urgent to move forward.
He said peak months for them are March through Oct. 1, and the group would like to do something to fill the off months.
“If we were able to change this business cycle, it would change our financial picture. It’s a big deal – thinking outside the box – that’s the fire that’s in our belly right now. Just because it’s a tough challenge doesn’t mean we back away,” he said.
He said the group did not want to go through the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau because 99 percent of occupancy is generated by the lodging properties while the CCCVB generates only 1 percent.
“How can they dictate (how the money is spent)? That’s a big problem. That’s unacceptable,” Boulware said. “They’ve got some very smart people and they have a lot of successes, but why can’t we drive our Decembers and Januarys? Let’s just get in there and get after it.”
He said it was not their intention to alienate the CCCVB, but repairing relations could be done only under the condition that they all start with a blank sheet of paper.
“We need to get everyone involved – all of the lodging properties. Today we’re here to ask the question. At some time, we’ll be back to say we’re done with our workshops,” he said.
Supervisor Robin Williamson said that in the past, it has been difficult to reach out to lodging properties because of many out-of-town owners.
“It’s been frustrating,” she said.
CCCVB Executive Director Candy Duncan told supervisors her board would have liked to have heard Boulware’s presentation.
“We’ve always wanted open and honest discussions, and I think we could come to a compromise we could all agree on,” Duncan said. “There is no one at the bureau who isn’t open to this,” she said, “but you can’t do a business impact statement without knowing how (the money) is going to be spent.”
“Hopefully we can have this resolved before the business impact statement comes back,” Boulware said.
Mayor Bob Crowell said he didn’t want to get into the middle of the fray.
“We need to have these parties talking to each other and this study will do that without tying anyone’s hands. We’re not going to pick sides. The CCCVB and lodging properties need to resolve this,” he said.
The supervisor’s agenda item did not address what the revenue would be used for, only whether to direct staff to prepare a business impact statement.
The next CCCVB meeting is Dec. 13.