The Fulton County Commissioners will consider a lodging tax during their Thursday, Sept. 25 meeting.
The tax would be charged to people who stay overnight in one of Fulton County’s five hotels and motels.
Two of the facilities are the Arch Motel and the Sauder Heritage Inn.
The Heritage Inn is within the Archbold village limits; the Arch Motel is just outside the limits.
Minutes from the Tuesday, Sept. 9 commissioners meeting indicate there was a resolution before the three commissioners to “Enact (a) Fulton County Lodging Tax to Transactions In Establishments Used for the Accommodation of Guests.”
The minutes note that Paul Barnaby, commissioner, made a motion to enact the tax, and Perry Rupp, president of the board of commissioners, seconded that motion.
But Bill Rufenacht, commissioner, moved to table the resolution “until discussion can be had with those who would be responsible for collecting the money.”
Rupp seconded Rufenacht’s motion, and Rufenacht and Rupp voted to table the tax resolution. Barnaby voted against tabling the issue.
The issue was tabled based on a 2-1 vote.
Rupp said since then, the commissioners have individually spoken with those who operate the hotels and motels in the county.
For example, he said he had spoken to Debbie David, president and chief executive officer of Sauder Village, about the issue.
Toni Schindler, marketing and communications director for Fulton County, said the state has allowed Ohio counties to collect a county permission lodging tax since 1967.
State law allows counties to collect a tax of up to 3%.
Currently, Schindler said the Ohio Department of Taxation indicates that 65 of Ohio’s 88 counties, along with 136 townships and 188 municipalities, have an existing lodging tax.
Schindler said money raised by a lodging tax must go toward a convention or visitors bureau; as of now, Fulton County does not have such a bureau.
Rupp said a convention and visitors bureau must be created. The bureau would use money from the tax to promote travel and tourism in Fulton County.
If more people traveled to, and visited, the county, they would purchase goods and services in the county, generating additional sales taxes.
Rupp said information received from a Columbusbased convention and visitors group projected Fulton County could raise $200,000 from a lodging tax.
He said county officials estimated potential income at $100,000 or less.
Rupp said a Fulton County Convention and Visitors Bureau would be an independent board, but he wasn’t sure how board members would be appointed.
He said he believes the hotel and motel operators would have a voice on that board.
While Fulton County does not collect a lodging tax, Dover Township does.
There are three motels clustered around the Wauseon turnpike interchange which are located in Dover Township.
Rupp said Dover Township implemented a lodging tax in the late 1960s or early 1970s before there was a requirement that the revenue go toward convention or visitors bureaus.
The tax generates about $60,000 per year for the township, he said.
Also, a 3% lodging tax was “set aside” in Pike Township, in case a hotel or motel is built near the Delta turnpike exit.
There is no lodging tax in German Township or the village of Archbold.
Henry, Defiance and Williams counties do not levy a lodging tax.
The cities of Napoleon and Defiance each collect a 6% lodging tax.
The city of Bryan does not collect a lodging tax.
There is a “Bed & Breakfast” Inn located in Wauseon.
The Burr House, on Burr Road, has four rooms available for guests. Since it is less than five rooms, it would not be required to collect the lodging tax.
Russell Mills, assistant professor of political science at Bowling Green State University, said there are pros and cons to lodging taxes.
On the positive side, he said such a tax would essentially outsource some of the local tax burden to people who don’t live in the community.
A lodging tax is relatively easy to collect because it’s billed like a sales tax, as part of the same transaction.
The lodging tax is appealing, Mills said, because it’s tied to the economic performance of the county.
Money from the tax is used to promote the county, which in turn, generates more revenue.
In Ohio, a lodging tax can be imposed by the county commissioners without public input, he said.
On the negative side, Mills said there are some people who are simply opposed to any tax, regardless of how, or from whom, it’s collected.
And if nearby communities don’t impose a lodging tax, it could drive people away.
Mills said in the Fulton County area, with Napoleon and Defiance taxing overnight stays, it would not be as big an issue.
When asked who had suggested a lodging tax, Rupp said the idea has been discussed among Fulton County leaders for seven to 10 years or more.