Extra Money for Tourism Council Will Bring More Visitors, Port Officials Hope
Port Washington officials are moving forward with an ordinance to increase the city's hotel/motel tax by 1 percent, which would generate tens of thousands of dollars to be used in marketing the city to tourists.
Officials are hoping to use what they call an improving economic situation in Port Washington to further benefit the city and attract more visitors.
The Port Washington Common Council on Wednesday night unanimously gave approval for city officials to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would increase the city's hotel/motel tax from 7 percent to 8 percent.
"I really think we've turned a corner in Port Washington. There's a new energy, there's a new vibrancy," Ald. Joe Dean said, pointing to increased traffic and hot-spot areas throughout the city.
By adding one percent to the hotel/motel tax, officials said there would be an estimated $30,000 in additional revenue — all of which would benefit Port Washington Tourism and therefore help fund marketing for the city.
"My hope is … we can be creative with some of those different funding resources that (are) not currently available to us," Mlada said. "We need to utilize the people that have been coming to our city."
Kathy Tank, the executive director of Port Washington Tourism, felt an obligation and responsibility to put the additional money to good use. She said that if the tourism group gets an increase in money, that it will work with the extra dollars, and do its best to make the most of the new money.
A couple target markets that were stressed by council members were Iowa and Chicago. Tourists from these and other markets that visit Port Washington impact many individuals — including local business owners.
Not every alderman at the meeting was completely sold on the idea. Although Ald. James Vollmar said he supports the rate increase, he cautioned his fellow council members on potential problems with the ordinance.
"When you hit the button that says charge (when booking a hotel online), and it comes up with $219 instead of $198, you ultimately see what it’s going to charge, and then you decide if you’re going to go or not; so you get a chance to back out (after seeing the tax)," Vollmar said. "That has an impact that may be felt, but I think we can reverse it. ... It’s a progressive tax; (there is) more revenue every time the room rates go up. (It’s) a means of evaluating our performance.”
Ald. Michael Ehrlich supports the additional dollars for tourism but was a bit worried that the money is used properly.
"I think it was a great idea," Ehrlich said. "You just don’t tend to get money just kind of falling in your lap almost. I just don’t want it to be wasted I guess; I want to make sure (tourism wants) it and will use it."
Before the meeting Wednesday night, Ald. Dave Larson was against the increased hotel/motel tax. After hearing the discussion among the other council members, he had a change of heart.
"I think I’ll change my vote on this," Larson said, "because I think in the end the one percent will be trumped by the positive that will come out of marketing."
The ordinance will come back to the council for review before formal approval.