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County close to adopting hotel-motel tax
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The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce could be line to receive hotel and motel tax receipts from the county in order to foster tourism efforts.

County Administrator David Crawley spelled out what a hotel-motel tax would mean and how much it could generate. The hotel and motel tax is levied only on guests staying in hotels and motels in those areas where such a tax is in place. A portion of the hotel-motel tax proceeds must go toward tourism development.

Chamber Director Rick Lott was scheduled to meet with county representatives Monday to discuss a possible hotel-motel tax.

“We’re happy it’s moving along,” Lott said.

Crawley estimated the approximate revenue from a 5 percent tax — there is one hotel in the unincorporated portion of the county and one motel in Rincon — would be $15,000. From that amount, about $6,000 would be directed to qualified group for tourism efforts.

“The next step is for us to get some proposals,” Crawley said.

The Chamber appears to be only group eligible to receive hotel-motel tax funds, Crawley told county commissioners. The Chamber is set up as a 501c6 and while non-profit groups set up under a 501c3 incorporation can receive county funds, the law establishing hotel-motel taxes stipulates only a 501c6 can receive hotel-motel tax receipts.

The Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau re-filed its articles of incorporation with the state in December.

“The Chamber is the only organization that meets the requirement of a 501c6,” Crawley said.

Crawley said the next step would be to meet with Chamber representatives and get a proposal on how they intend to spend the funds. The county would put a contract in place at the same time commissioners would vote on an ordinance enacting the tax.

The Chamber has a tourism board, and Chamber representatives met with the Effingham CVB last fall to discuss projects the two groups could work on together.

Lott also discussed a hotel-motel tax, with the Chamber getting a portion of the proceeds for its tourism arm, last August. Those talks are still ongoing, he said.

There is the potential for greater revenue from the hotel-motel tax, Lott noted, should the Effingham Industrial Development Authority’s deal with Medient Studios at its Interstate 16 holdings take root and blossom. Hotels and restaurants are part of Medient’s plan for the tract.

“We’re seeing business starting to pick up for the hotels here, and with the promise in the future of the movie studio project at Interstate 16, it could be huge,” Lott said. “We see this as a great thing for the county altogether. We’ll finally have some money to market the county and interest people in seeing what we have here.”