Ridgeway Talks Accommodations Tax

RIDGEWAY (July 14, 2016) – With Ridgeway’s Hospitality Tax just shy of one year old, Town Council Tuesday night batted around the idea of an Accommodations Tax (A-Tax) as a potential source of new revenue; albeit, a source that is at present not even on Ridgeway’s radar.

Currently, there are no businesses that would fall under an A-Tax inside the town limits. Councilwoman Andrea Harrison, however, suggested that it would be best to have the tax in place before such a business – hotel, motel or inn – arrived.

“I would hate to institute a tax (right after such a business came to town),” Harrison said. “This . . . is in case something ever does come, or we extend our town limits and incorporate more places where this could (apply). I’d hate for a business to come in and then (tax them). We already have a Hospitality Tax, so why not an Accommodations Tax?”

While the spending of funds from the Hospitality Tax is restricted to tourism-related expenditures, one strength of the A-Tax, Harrison said, is its funds can go directly into the Town’s general fund, to be spent at Council’s discretion.

“Ridgeway is going to eventually grow,” Councilman Heath Cookendorfer agreed. “We need places for people to stay. I think we have to look now for the future. Like Charlene (Mayor Herring) said … if we’re not planning for five years or 10 years down the road, we’re standing still. Adding it (an A-Tax), we’re not hurting anything; it’s going to be in place long before anyone has a facility that would require an Accommodations Tax.”

Cookendorfer noted that A-Tax funds, unlike H-Tax funds, could be used to help Ridgeway’s financially beleaguered Police Department.

Responding to questions from Herring, Harrison said the A-Tax would not apply to an individual renting out a single room in their home. It would only apply, she said, to a certain number of rooms for a certain period of time. Extended stays of three to six months, she said, would also be exempt.

Herring asked Harrison to bring back a draft of an A-Tax ordinance to Council’s Aug. 11 meeting.

Grass and Weeds

Harrison was less than enthusiastic last month when lending her support to first reading of an amended ordinance on unsightly tall weeds and grass inside the town limits. Tuesday night, she voted against final reading. It was not enough, however, to keep the law off the books as Council voted 3-1 to accept the new rules.

The ordinance will require residents to keep weeds and grass in yards mowed to less than 1-foot in height. Residents found in violation would receive a 14-day notice, after which time the Town would mow the lawn and bill the resident. Anyone failing to reimburse the Town for the mowing bill would have a lien placed on their property until the balance was paid.

“I still think a lien is harsh,” Harrison said.

But without the penalty phase of the ordinance, Cookendorfer said, “why even have an ordinance?”

Police Radio

Council received a quote of $4,218 from Motorola for a single walkie-talkie for the Police Department. Council asked Chief Christopher Culp to bring back two additional quotes, then voted to accept the lowest of the three.

 

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