State Rep. Andrew Brenner doesn’t agree with the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association regarding a new hotel bed tax to fund improvements for the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
“I disagree on the premise of their point,” said Brenner, R-Powell. “We passed a law change.”
“The tax didn’t take into account the double taxation,” said Joe Savarise, executive director of the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association earlier this week. “In the original discussions, the tax didn’t include the Columbus hotels.”
“We did discuss with key lawmakers our concerns about the Delaware County bed tax,” said Savarise. “We’ve expressed our concerns and opposition to the proposal prior to it passing into law and to county commissioners before the issue was placed on the ballot.”
Savarise told The Gazette earlier that the association would seek “corrective action,” either through new state legislation or in the courts to stop the “double taxation” of Polaris area hotels. Columbus annexed the Polaris area of Delaware County in 1990 and imposes a lodging tax as well.
However, Savarise said he would more prefer working together with the county to solve the issue.
Savarise said that the municipality’s tax trumps the county tax.
Brenner sponsored the amendment to the Ohio Revised Code, allowing Delaware County to impose a bed tax for improvement at the fairgrounds.
Brenner said the five-year bed tax — approved by Delaware County voters in March — is a pilot program specifically written for Delaware County and centered on the fairgrounds.
“The amendment was designed to do what it is supposed to do,” Brenner said. “There were five other (counties’) bed taxes included in the amendment.”
Delaware County’s 3 percent bed tax is expected to generate $200,000 in revenue annually to be used for improvements to the fairgrounds’ buildings and facilities.
Delaware County officials said they have received $126,986 in revenue to date from the bed tax in the first month of collection.
“If the tax generates more revenue than expected, I would possibly reconsider the percentage,” Brenner said. However, he would have to evaluate any change over a period of time, he said.
According to Brenner, numerous government agencies supported the tax — including those in the Polaris area.
“Delaware County supplies everything to the (Polaris) area,” Brenner said. “Why isn’t the city of Columbus sharing their revenue with Delaware County?”
County Commissioner Gary Merrell said Thursday: “The law is clear — it states all of Delaware County.”
“We’re working toward positive things and we remain optimistic,” said Chip Thomson, vice president of the fair board. “The county commissioners have implemented the tax appropriately.”
The tax went into effect May 6 and is imposed across the county on all hotels and lodging businesses, regardless of municipal boundaries, according to rules approved by county commissioners earlier this year.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.