With the result of last weeks vote on the hotel/motel tax referendum in Marcus, I couldn't believe it didn't pass. I started calling people who voted against the idea "stupid," but perhaps they didn't understand what it was all about. The public hears the word "taxes" and immediately, one has a nature to be against any kind of tax. Most of us would rather spend our hard earned money where we choose.
Several months ago, the council decided upon a 5 cent sales tax on overnight lodging. This amount is rather miniscule compared to other towns and states. One can easily have their night's lodging creep up to $8 and more when traveling. It has become an automatic expectation in one's expenses when taking a trip.
The council had also decided to take at least 50 percent of the money raised from the five cent tax to go towards the maintenance of the Marcus Community building, which is used for receptions for weddings, anniversaries, funeral meals and many social events. Fund-raisers are held there as well as other community social gatherings. Every town needs a good community building to serve several purposes.
Anyone who has talked with the council , or served on the council, knows that one can't have such a building without funds to underwrite it's costs. For several years, the building was starting to run up a major debt but the most recent community center board members have worked hard wiping out the debt and making improvements such as a handicapped accessible entrance. They have kept the inside of the building clean and spruced up. The money to do this came from folks writing checks or from multi-fundraisers.
So, if this measure had passed, we wouldn't need those fund-raisers as this tax would have easily brought in $5,000 a year and the board would have this money to fall back upon. The Hometown Guesthouse investors are quite pleased with the usage this motel has had in the last 18 months or so that it has been open. The majority of the money would come from folks passing through town just as money is raised for other towns projects.
What also was a very strong surprise for me was the fact that one businessman had a sign in his front yard stating that he didn't want to tax family or friends. He and his wife also have a business, Cozy Cottage, which is a small three-bedroom home that they completely remodeled. It really was done up attractively and they rent it out as well for folks who want to stay in Marcus a night or a week or longer.
The tax would be on those staying short term. I can't believe that putting five cents tax on each dollar of the amount for a night's lodging would break family or friends. I would suggest that if it's family or close friends, why charge? When we had a number of relatives come this summer, we paid for the motel rooms as they were our guests.
I doubt very much whether any guest would object to five cents more per dollar. If a motel costs $60, you would pay $3 more for that room. If that would kill the deal, they had better not be traveling anywhere. Their rates are lower than this and everyone can't believe what a deal it is.
It's not that this couple wasn't aware of the need to raise money for the community building as I was told she serves on the board and he is a former councilman. So perhaps they led some blind sheep astray to get the nay vote. I just don't get it.
Now it will be up to the community to dig again and again into their pockets to support the community building. I myself would rather have those driving through the community dip into their pockets as I dip into mind when I'm in another town. There have been many construction workers and others stay at the motel. Those Marcus natives love staying at the motel as it features historical aspects of the town. We all should be very pleased with the positive effect it has had on our community.
The vote was close and I hope this will open some folks' eyes. I also know we will have to wait a while before we can vote on this again. These nay - sayers just shot themselves in the foot, and I'm sure they will all pony up with a check for the center.