The City of Bremen is having a tough time getting approval from the state to increase its hotel/motel tax.
Money collected through that tax is required to be spent on tourism, conventions, trade-shows or tourism product development.
The city currently collects a 5% rate from the lodging businesses, but now hopes to increase that rate to 8%, which is the max rate allowed. Additional collections could equal more than $100,000.
Bremens mayor and council have asked for support from Senator Bill Heath who would have influence in getting the request approved in his chamber, but so far, Heath has shown no interest in helping the request get through committee.
After three years of trying to get approval from the state to increase the tax-rate, Bremen City Councilwoman Salli Thomason, this week, took to social media to express her frustration with her local senator:
It is very disappointing that this is the third year that we have tried to get Senator Heaths assistance with this. This year we didnt even spend the resources to prepare a resolution because we figured that when he did not respond to Mayor Sewell asking for his assistance during this legislative session that our efforts may be in vain again. I understand that he may be against increasing the tax rate, but we just want it to go to the senate floor for a vote. It has been held in committee, which means it does not get to go to the senate floor for a vote.
Thomason said the citys proposal had previously passed through the house, with sponsorship from their House Rep. Kevin Cooke. But it must also get senate approval and at this point, that does not seem likely.
Heath has served as a Georgia legislator since 2002 and has rarely, if ever, supported any form of tax increase during his time in office. On Thursday, he suggested he would not be one to bring a tax increase proposal to fellow law makers, either.
Senator Heath responded to our request for comment on Thursday. E-mailing:
The tax could not legally go the general-purpose fund. The city has not convinced me that that would be in the best interest of all concerned to raise taxes.