Reynoldsburg considers raising bed tax
In the next few weeks, Reynoldsburg city council will consider raising the city "bed tax."
The tax affects motels in the city, which pass the cost to their customers, Councilman Mel Clemens said.
Most suburbs charge a 6 percent tax, but Reynoldsburg and Groveport only charge 4 percent, City Auditor Richard Harris said.
Last year Gahanna collected $461,000 in bed tax revenue while Reynoldsburg only collected $179,000, Harris said.
"Obviously we are not collecting what similar cities are," Harris said at the Nov. 16 council meeting.
Harris estimated that Reynoldsburg would collect an additional $50,000 per year with the proposed increase.
"It's a way to increase revenue that we need without residents having to pay for it," Clemens said.
Despite Clemens' assertion that no city residents would be affected, Councilman Ron Stake said he is against any new taxes in Reynoldsburg.
The proposed increase would harm the city's existing motels and discourage development of new motels, Stake said.
Council president William Hills said that when considering locations for new motels, developers would more likely consider whether "people are going to come to it rather than 'will we have to pay 4 percent or 6 percent?'"
The important element for a motel developer is nearby "farmland to stick a sign in," Clemens said. "I don't call ahead to see who collects 4 percent and who collects 6 percent."
The increase was proposed as companion legislation to an ordinance that would grant 15 percent of the existing bed tax to Reynoldsburg Economic Development Inc. (REDI).
The REDI board will invest the money (not to exceed $25,000) in projects to encourage economic development, Development Director Lucas Haire said.
Currently, all the bed tax enters the city's general fund, Harris said.
If council votes to donate $25,000 per year to REDI, the council needs to decide how to replace the money to the general fund, Harris said.
Offsetting the general fund decrease with a bed tax increase makes sense, Hills said.
"It is the fiscally responsible thing to do," Hills said.
The bed tax money could also cover the additional $8,000 per year that the Reynoldsburg City School District intends to bill the city, Hills said.
After several failed levy attempts, the strapped school district determined it could no longer afford to allow the city's parks and recreation department to use school facilities at no charge.
Mayor Brad McCloud and Superintendent Steve Dackin discussed the situation and agreed on the district billing the city, McCloud said.
To cover the additional cost, the parks department submitted proposed fee increases to council, Parks Director Jason Shamblin said.
Clemens said that he would vote against the "steep" fee hikes.
Fees for youth basketball would increase from $30 per player to $80 and fees for adult volleyball would increase from $235 per team to $695, Shamblin said.
Clemens said the summer playground program would also increase $18 under the proposal.
"The economy is not good," Clemens said. "A lot of families cannot afford this."
Stake suggested that the city begin charging the school district for services.
"It's all taxpayer money, but they decided to start this," Stake said.
McCloud told the council he would research dollar amounts for all the services that the city provides to the school district at no charge.
McCloud said that providing security for the Raider's six home football games totaled approximately $7,200 for the city.
In other business, the Service Committee voted against a proposed a U-Haul business behind the Marathon gas station at 6748 E. Main St.
Clemens said that U-Haul trucks would be at odds with the city's $15 million investment to beautify the corridor.
"It's not a benefit to the city," Clemens said.