The Shelby County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, approved a new resolution for, and changes to, the Hotel/Motel Tax. The biggest change is that the fiscal agent is being transferred from the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, to the Shelby County Auditor. With the change, the 20 percent administration fee that was going to the Chamber will now be omitted and 100 percent will go towards tourism. The resolution says 100-percent of the revenue derived from the tax shall be expended for the promotion and encouragement of tourism.
All requests for funding will have to be submitted to a Hotel/Motel tax Committee, which will be comprised of a Harlan City Council representative, Shelby Co. Board of Supervisor representative and one Shelby County Chamber board Representative. The committee also includes one rural business owner and a rural resident (both appointed by Shelby County), one Harlan business owner and one Harlan resident, both appointed by the City of Harlan.
The Shelby County Auditor will receive the tax revenues collected by the State of Iowa and administer the tax without charge. The Auditor will also provide the City of Harlan an annual report detailing all receipts and expenditures from the account. Supervisor Steve Kenkel said in the meeting one of the things the committee needs to talk about is the definition of tourism. He said “When I looked it up in the dictionary, everyone has a different definition. Tourism is a business of serving tourists or travelers that promote your attraction in your area and benefits the local economy. I think we have to have that focus and be on the same page.”
Shelby County Auditor Marsha Carter said at the first Hotel/Motel Tax Committee meetings guidelines will be set and discussed so the definition isn’t so broad. The Harlan City Council was expected to act on a similar ordinance this evening at their meeting Tuesday evening. Supervisor Kenkel also brought a proposal to help promote economic development within Shelby County. The proposal, which the Board approved, was for a new member cost share program starting in the fiscal year 2013/2014.
The county is offering a cost share program with Shelby County Chamber members for reimbursement on their 1st year membership dues, up to 50 percent or $75 max and up to 30 new memberships per year. The first time Chamber members would submit a copy of their membership dues receipt to the County for the rebate. Kenkel said the program would continue the following year if at least 50 percent of the previous year’s first time memberships were renewed with the Chamber. The proposal could be offered for a 3rd year as well.