In favor of proposed tourism tax

Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011

As the owner of a tourism related business in Cooper Landing, I have to take issue with your editorial of May 8.

The borough currently raises well over $5 million taxing tourists. So -- like it or not -- the borough definitely is in the tourism business.

Every other borough, all of the cities and most of the unincorporated communities pony up some money to encourage tourists to visit their place. It's just good business.

For the Kenai not to compete in this marketplace will mean a steady decline in borough tax revenues.

The borough currently re-invests around $300,000 through the KPTMC to promote visiting the Kenai Peninsula. But in times of tight budgets there is the temptation to reduce or eliminate this investment.

This would be counter productive -- right now every dollar the borough invests brings in around $5 in new tax revenue that it would not get without that marketing effort. But eliminating this investment has still been proposed each of the last few years.

So, KPTMC is proposing to create a source of funding that doesn't take away from the general fund revenues ... taxing tourists directly to support tourism marketing via a 1 percent tourism assessment. Like a bed tax, it would directly target those visiting the borough but it would be spread more fairly over all tourism companies.

The borough gets to keep the $300,000 it invests in marketing for other needs and will also be able to recoup the costs of administering the assessment program.

I will have to pay the 1 percent assessment if it is enacted. Still, I strongly believe that it is a good idea that will benefit the entire borough.

If you want to keep your property taxes from climbing to make up for falling borough revenues caused by declining tourism sales, you too should support the tourism assessment.

If you think the borough should be run the same way a good business is run, you should support the tourism assessment.

George Heim, Cooper Landing

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