YMCA, hotel operators to meet Wednesday

Published 11:18 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Amidst the ongoing discussion about a proposed lodging tax fee increase in Selma — one aimed at financially stabilizing the YMCA of Selma — one local hotel operator is speaking out.

At Tuesday’s Selma City Council meeting, Rufus Ford, manager of the Hampton Inn in Selma spoke about his feelings towards the idea of the proposed fee that would add $3 per night, per room to hotels in Selma.

“We all have differing opinions in this matter, so we decided we all need to get together to hear some of the concerns about the new fee being added,“ Ford said of a meeting he and other managers of Selma hotels plan for Wednesday morning.

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Ford said the city and the YMCA of Selma took a wrong turn for him when they spoke publicly about the proposed fee before talking with any hotel officials.

“The general consensus that I got is that most hotel owners are not in favor of this simply because it is a bailout for the YMCA being mismanaged. Point blank, “ Ford said.

In the first proposal of the fee, which came from YMCA of Selma board member Ronnie Leet, he said the board decided to go to the council first, “because we wanted the council’s blessing in order to go forward and tell the hotel managers and owners.”

Ford’s main argument, while addressing the council, was that the projected earnings for YMCA through the additional fee could be incorrect.

“In the [fee], they project the earnings from 50 percent occupancy of every hotel,” Ford said. “The problem is that most hotels in Selma don’t stay at 50 percent occupancy, so how are we as a city going to get the hotels to 50 percent occupancy? To even do that you have to have some revenue generators.”

And by “revenue generators” Ford explained those are brochures and pamphlets that not only advertise Selma, but push occupancy and lodging in Selma. While the city pays for tourism and the promotion of its tourism industry, Ford said he felt if the city included the hotels in that push, it would benefit the YMCA and the hotels all with the lodging fee.

“The city and the tourism department have to do something to get people to start staying in hotels,” Ford said. “We have to get actively engaged in things like that which would make supporting the Y so much easier.”

While the $3 proposed fee is primarily aimed at financially stabilizing the YMCA of Selma, only two-thirds of it go to the YMCA. In the proposal, the other dollar would go to the city’s general fund.

Also, hotel guests at Selma hotels would receive a pass to use the YMCA during their stay and hotel staff, administrators and owners would receive free memberships to the YMCA.