Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Warren boosts lodging tax

Income from visitors down

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Beginning in January, Warren County will join Ohio's other 87 counties in collecting a 3 percent tax on hotel stays.

        County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to increase the lodging tax from 2 percent. The proceeds — $707,845 last year — go to the county Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote tourism.

        “It has become a very competitive environment,” bureau Executive Director Shirley Bonekemper told the commissioners.

        The bureau expects to collect 11 percent less this year, largely because of the sagging economy, terrorism fears and Cincinnati's April riots. Tourism hasn't fallen too much, Ms. Bonekemper said, but revenue is lower because hotels have had to cut rates to keep visitors coming.

        The higher tax rate should bring in about $900,000 for the bureau in 2002, she said, with most of the money going toward a more sophisticated Web site and keeping the Tennis Masters Series in Mason.

        “I understand the need for a hotel tax,” Golden Lamb Inn General Manager Paul Resetar said Tuesday afternoon. “My hope and desire is that those monies will (bring in) additional business.”

        Tourism is one of Warren County's largest industries, Ms. Bonekemper said, with attractions such as Paramount's Kings Island and the Golden Lamb contributing 10,800 jobs and $455.9 million to the local economy in 2000.

        The commissioners were convinced, opting to approve the tax increase Tuesday instead of waiting to hold an optional public hearing.

        In other business, commissioners also approved the annexation of about 170 acres from Salem Township into Morrow. The village began the day seeking to annex 250 acres east along U.S. 22/Ohio 3, but the commissioners engineered a compromise when several property owners asked to be excluded.


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