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Council approves hotel-motel tax increase

With the blessing of the vast majority of hoteliers in Peachtree City, the city council voted 4-1 Thursday to increase the city’s hotel-motel tax from 6 to 8 percent.

That will steer extra funding to the city that will be used to maintain and improve existing city recreation facilities which will in turn be used to leverage sports tournaments to help fill hotels, particularly on weekends when business-related traffic is light.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch noted the proposal does not require the creation of any new recreational facilities.

Instead it’s a matter of having additional money “to take care of what we have,” Fleisch said.

The city’s existing recreation fields and venues are more than sufficient to attract tournaments and have done so in the past, Fleisch noted, referencing a summer lacrosse tournament that has been held here for several years. The Atlanta Sports Council and an independent evaluator also have confirmed such, Fleisch said.

Under the city’s current hotel-motel tax, the funds cannot be spent directly on recreation projects.

Had the tax increase been enacted in 2011, the city could have seen an increase in hotel-motel taxes of $142,000 and the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau would have doubled its hotel-motel tax revenue with an additional $284,600.

Council members Kim Learnard and George Dienhart said they were stunned that the hotel representatives had been convinced to go along with the measure. Fleisch has been working on the negotiations for well over a year and actually made the presentation to her fellow councilmembers in lieu of city staff.

While the proposal calls for a reduction over 10 years in the amount of hotel-motel tax paid to the city’s airport authority for operating Falcon Field (Atlanta Regional Airport), it also provides for the current subsidy of $102,000 a year to be paid during years in which the authority has less than $100,000 in annual operating income.

Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix cast the only no votes against the several measures that were deemed necessary to seek the legislature’s approval. Haddix is a frequent critic of city recreation spending and noted that without a unanimous vote from council, the hotel-motel tax increase will not be approved per the rules of the Fayette County legislative delegation.

However that is not completely clear given that the makeup of the delegation has changed somewhat due to last year’s redistricting of seats in the Georgia House of Representatives. The district of Coweta Rep. Billy Horne, a Republican, was expanded into part of northwest Peachtree City which also gives him a say on such matters.

The local legislative delegation’s nod is necessary for the matter to be voted on by the full legislature.

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