Hotel tax issue not closed

Donelle Pardee Whiting

After what was a shocking and surprising vote Nov. 3, Washington City Council members decided Monday to bring the hotel tax ordinance back to the table.

During the council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, city leaders discussed the recently failed ordinance that would have raised Washington’s hotel/motel tax from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Alderman Don Brubaker, who was one of four to vote no last week, said he has since met with Bob Morris.

“After getting clarification, I can now stand behind the ordinance,” Brubaker said.

He added that investing the revenue from the increase to the Peoria Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau should be strictly a two-year investment.

“It should be written into the ordinance,” Brubaker said.

Alderman Jim Gee said he was never opposed to giving the PACVB 1 percent of the current hotel tax revenue.

“The city’s share would still be there for Washington’s use,” Gee said, adding he was still against raising the tax.

Alderman Bob Brucks said the ordinance had checks and balances written in to protect Washington, but too much time had passed between the first reading and the Nov. 3 vote.

Council members delayed the vote to wait to see if state legislation would pass, allowing East Peoria and Morton — both non home rule communities — to raise their hotel tax to 6 percent.

“It is important to stand up to our commitment to the other communities,” Brucks said.

Alderman Jim Newman said, after last week’s vote, he supported the tax increase and would have attended the meeting if he had realized a lack of council approval.

Newman is also a member of the zoning board of appeals and attended a ZBA meeting that was moved because of the elections.

Alderman Dave Dingledine said he needed more information before he could support raising the bed tax.

City administrator Bob Morris said he will tweak the ordinance to include a two-year limitation and present it at the Nov. 17 meeting.

The limitation would require the ordinance be approved again after two years.

If, at that time, council members decide Washington is not benefiting from its investment, the tax would revert back to the original 5 percent.

The ordinance is expected to pass at the Dec. 1 council meeting.