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Officials hope room tax will boost tourism

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Stacy Vogel
August 3, 2008
— The Edgerton Area Chamber of Commerce hopes charging more for hotel rooms will help bring in more overnight visitors.

The chamber has proposed a 5 percent tax on hotel rooms in Edgerton, Fulton Township and Albion Township to collect money for promoting tourism.


“I have never been one that has been in favor of taxation; however, we don’t have the promotional dollars to help promote our area,” said Kim Schuetz, chamber vice-president and head of the subcommittee promoting the idea.


If the municipalities agree, the tax would affect:


-- Towne Edge Motel, Edgerton.


-- Comfort Inn, Fulton Township.


-- Coachman’s Golf Resort, Albion Township.


The Edgerton City Council passed a first reading of the ordinance July 21, and the chamber is working with the Fulton and Albion town boards on the issue, Schuetz said.


Of the money collected, 75 percent would go for tourism promotion. Another 20 percent would go to the municipalities, and 5 percent would go back to the innkeepers.


The communities would establish a commission with representatives from the hotels and municipalities to decide how to spend the money, Schuetz said.


Right now, the only money used to promote tourism in Edgerton comes from the chamber’s budget—about $4,000 a year, Schuetz said.


“This would dramatically increase our ability to reach outside the area,” she said.


The money would be used to attract visitors who likely would stay overnight, she said. The commission could use a Web site and print advertising to promote multi-day events such as Tobacco Heritage Days and the Sterling North Book & Film Festival.


Increased tourism would help businesses all over southern Wisconsin, Edgerton Mayor Erik Thompson said.


“Down the road, it’ll help Edgerton out,” he said.


But Evan Sayre, Fulton town chairman, isn’t too sure. He believes once the communities took their share and the commission hired an administrator, there wouldn’t be much money left for advertising.


If the advertising were really needed, the hotels would already do it on their own, he said.


At least one local motel owner also doesn’t support the idea.


Gurdiel Dhillon, owner of Towne Edge Motel, said customers come to his business because of its low price. He fears some won’t be able to afford a 5 percent increase.


“This is a very small motel, and the people, when they come, it’s hard for them to pay the minimum amount,” he said.


But Lydia Moore, president of Coachman’s Golf Resort, expressed cautious support for the proposal.


“I think the chamber of commerce could definitely use income to help the tourism trade,” she said. “I guess the only concern is what our customers will think.”


A representative from Comfort Inn declined to comment on the proposal.


Schuetz doesn’t believe the tax will deter visitors because room taxes are common around the state, she said. Janesville, Beloit and Evansville all charge room taxes of 7 percent or 8 percent.


“When people come to locations like the Comfort Inn, they anticipate paying a room tax,” Schuetz said.



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