Marshall County Innkeeper’s Tax

The Marshall County Council chose to increase the Innkeeper’s Tax from 3 to 5 percent.  [Pilot News Article]  I’ve had a disagreement with this tax since it first went into effect over a decade ago. 

My first issue is the same as Dr. Watson’s.  (See his letter to the editor here.)  It is taxation without representation.  It was originally passed “because we could” rather than because there was a need.  Now it appears that it has been raised using the same rational.  From the Pilot News Article:  “Woolfington [Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director] pointed out that Marshall County was one of just a handful of counties in the state of Indiana that has held the tax at 3 percent. Adjacent counties have raised their tax to the 5 percent level and St. Joseph County is at 6 percent.”  Mr. Woolfington then goes on to talk about our loss of a major hotel chain.  Somehow I doubt that this was because they suffered a decline in business because they weren’t charging enough!  How is raising our tax rate to match surrounding counties going to attract people to stay here?

My second issue with this has always been the Marshall County Visitor’s Guide.  Despite the Innkeeper’s Tax, the first thing the newly formed Visitor’s and Convention Bureau did was to start shaking down local businesses and Chambers of Commerce for ads in their new visitor’s guide.  Currently more than that 10% of the Culver Chamber of Commerce’s annual budget goes toward an ad in this guide.  I was on the Culver Chamber Board when this went into effect and I voted against that budget item and the passing of the budget including that item until I left the board and I continued to vote against it as a Chamber member for several years after.  (I now generally skip that meeting as my meal doesn’t sit well after that vote…)  I considered it then and now a phenomenal waste of precious dollars…dollars requested by a tax funded entity of a volunteer organization.  Dollars which wouldn’t need them if MCCVB was effective in it’s mission!

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