Hotel operators are misinformedPublished 9:00pm Monday, January 21, 2013
It was difficult to sit in the Administrative Committee meeting for the Selma City Council and listen to hotel owners and managers discuss their opinions about the lodging fee.
In countless columns, myself and other reporters at the Times-Journal, have discussed how the YMCA is an integral part of the community. I read so many letters to the editor in the newsroom about what the YMCA of Selma has done for people, specifically older women talking about how the water aerobics classes have helped their joints and men speak of how the programming put them on a straighter path to success as a child.
The question the city council members will ask themselves before voting Tuesday is not a question of whether or not the YMCA is needed in our community, but whether or not allowing an occupancy fee to be increased on hotel rooms would be fair to all Selma residents.
Ask these hotel owners about how they feel about this fee and the song will sound something like they are Frodo and Selma Mayor George Evans (Gandalf) has just handed them a ring that they must destroy — they have been handed this great, deep and dark burden they have to bear.
One owner said he is actually a member of the YMCA, and wants to do his part to help. He said for him, his opposition to the occupancy fee is just based on the fairness of the matter — hotel owners shouldn’t be the only ones who have to bear the burden, but all of the other businesses in Selma should participate in the fee.
If the fee were to take away from his profit and income, I would have to agree with him — but that is certainly not the case. I also understand the argument that they, all 11 hotels, were chosen as a specific business to administer this fee to help the YMCA.
Consider International Paper. Let’s say a representative or an engineering consultant ventures from headquarters to the Riverdale Mill. This consultant would stay overnight on a paid business trip.
This means when the consultant checks out and uses his company credit card, they would have paid the $2 per night charge, not the hotel.
So the argument that is made that all the businesses should face some kind of burden, we ask why when the burden of this fee is not on the hotels but on those visiting Selma, doing business in Selma or passing through Selma.
And, for it to be called a burden is unfair as well. In return for participating, these hotel owners, operators and their employees will be receiving free memberships to the YMCA and their guests will be given passes to the state-of-the-art facility as well.
Although the arguments in this case have become muddled, the right decision is very clear.