Council creeps closer to YMCA of Selma deal

Published 10:29pm Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The proposed occupancy fee increase on hotels in the city of Selma is one step closer to going to a vote in the council chambers to benefit the YMCA of Selma.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Selma City Council unanimously voted to place the ordinance on first reading after Selma city attorney Jimmy Nunn presented the council with the layout of the fee.

The fee would be $1.50 per night, per room in each hotel in the city of Selma. Council members asked to put the ordinance on first reading after learning that before the next council meeting, they can change and edit parts of the ordinance.

“There were several things that we did leave out of [the ordinance] and one of the things you will see is the sunset provision,” Nunn said. “We did leave out the number of days the restriction, if the money would be distributed and several other things, but you do have an ordinance here for the occupancy tax/ lodging tax for your review.”

The amount is proposed at $1.50 per room, per night and if the city council wants to go back and revise that they can, Nunn said.  The $1.50 would go to the city of Selma and the city would then give all of the revenue to the Selma YMCA through a contract for “community development.”

“We can change that amount and also on the sunset provision you can put in the time limit or the terms of the start and finish of the fee,” he said. “All of that can be added in there and just let me know and we can make the provisions. “

Nunn also expressed to the council concerns that were brought to him by hotel owners. Owners of America’s Best Value and Budget Inn and Days Inn have expressed concerns that a percentage tax would be better for the revenue and the hotels.

“They have expressed that they felt that it would be a win-win situation for the hotels and the city both, if the current proposal was based on a percentage rather than be based on a tax,” Nunn told the council Thursday. “They have also pointed out that the Comfort Inn, the Economy Inn and the Craig Motel — they were not in the city limits and would be excluded from the tax, but that is not totally true.”

Nunn said that was not entirely true, that based on police jurisdiction and sales taxes, those hotels would be included in the lodging and occupancy fee.

Because the ordinance was placed on first reading, the council can review the proposal and at the earliest vote at their next scheduled meeting on Jan. 22.

If the hotels operated at 50 percent occupancy, based on a report compiled with information from the city’s tourism department, the $1.50 per room, per night fee could bring in an estimated $188,000 for the YMCA per year.

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