07/07/09 — Council says no to increasing hotel tax right now

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Council says no to increasing hotel tax right now

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on July 7, 2009 1:46 PM

Goldsboro City Council members discussed possible options for increasing the hotel/motel occupancy tax rate by 1 percent, which would collect about $100,000 in revenue, but ultimately decided to wait on the issue.

Although city officials met June 18 with State Sen. Don Davis regarding legislation that could change the rate, council members decided at its work session Monday not to immediately pursue it.

The legislation could potentially change the amount collected and also how the money is utilized. One possibility the council discussed was the option of putting two-thirds of the money into the travel and tourism account, while the remaining third would be dedicated to the convention center account.

For any such bill to be considered during the current legislative session, officials would have had to draft the document immediately to pass it on to Davis for introduction in the state Senate.

"He did tell us the chances of getting it passed are very slim" if the industry opposed the bill, Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan told council members.

And council members had already heard from lobbyists in the hotel industry that the move would be opposed, she said.

Pursuing the legislation without a current ongoing project that would be affected by the occupancy tax increase would be an "uphill battle," Mayor Al King said.

"I don't like our chances because we don't have any projects ongoing," he said.

However, Councilman Bob Waller was in favor of more discussion of the issue at a later date.

"We've been putting this off for seven years," he said.

Waller said he would like for the council to further discuss the situation and have something ready for a future session.

The state is attempting to specify how the money should be used, Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen said.

"The way we use it should be a local decision," Allen said.

In other business at Monday night's meeting, Charles Wright addressed the council and discussed statistics that he said illustrate how African-American students are faring in Wayne County schools.

Wright presented data about the achievement gap between black students and students of other races, the percentage of students at each school who are suspended every year, the number of children who receive free or reduced lunch in some schools and other information.

Councilman the Rev. Charles Williams asked Wright what action he proposed.

"What would you like to see the school board do in response to these statistics?" Williams said.

Greater dissemination of information and greater cooperation between administrators, and a reduction in the statistics, Wright responded.

"Someone has to take the lead role, it shouldn't be Charles Wright," he said.

Wright plans to repeat the presentation for the Mount Olive Town Board and the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

The council members voted to approve a 17-item consent agenda, including a rezoning for a new pharmacy and medical supply store on Wayne Memorial Drive, accepting a formal bid request for fire hydrant additions in Annexation Phase XI and a Military Appreciation Membership Drive for the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course.

The council also heard from Park Riley Wilkins and Miles Perry, two volunteers working to develop and install a Frisbee disc golf course in Stoney Creek Park. Wilkins and Perry raised more than $8,200 to purchase the equipment and are donating their own time to design and construct the 18-hole course.

"They've done an excellent job," interim Parks and Recreation Director Gail Charles said.