Washington becoming player

Staff Writer
Washington Times-Reporter

Brent Lonteen, the group’s president and CEO of the Peoria Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is drumming up support for a 1 percent increase in the hotel tax.

The Peoria City Council already voted yes to the increase, raising Peoria’s hotel tax from 5.5 percent to 6 percent.

East Peoria and Morton, being non-homeruled communities, supported legislation that would allow them to increase the tax.

That legislation passed the Illinois Senate and will now go before the House of Representatives.

Raising the tax will allow Peoria-area communities to invest money in the Peoria Tourism Board, which, up until now, only Peoria did.

Lonteen said because Washington, Morton, East Peoria and Pekin added new hotels, they are becoming major players.

The revenue sent to the PACVB would be used to entice convention and sports business.

Lonteen said EastSide is a major venue for the National Softball Association.

The Peoria Civic Center hosts Illinois High School Association March Madness.

Lonteen and his group are working to promote the Peoria area as a place to visit, and, he said, he wants to include Washington.

Five Points Washington is a state-of-the-art facility with an eight-lane competition pool.

There is no reason we cannot host the IHSA Regional swim meets.

In addition, the Caterpillar Performing Arts Center seats about 1,200. That is not much more than the Civic Center’s theater.

Lonteen said the PACVB is willing to help make that possible.

Alderman Jim Gee, Ward IV, said he was not in support of the increase because he has experienced communities who charge a high tax just to make money.

We understand that sentiment. However, 1 percent is not all that much of an increase.

Plus, all the neighboring communities, and some farther out such as Springfield, would have the same 6 percent tax.

That small increase could prove to be beneficial to Washington’s future.