Jacksonville lodging revenue is on the rise – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

The Chamber of Commerce will benefit from a reduced percentage on accommodation taxes, the overall amount it collects will not decrease

Peggy Dover fills out brochures at the Jacksonville Visitor Information Center next to the Post Office in downtown Jacksonville. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

Jacksonville Visitor Information Center next to the downtown Jacksonville Post Office. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]

Rising lodging tax revenue from Airbnb payments has changed how the city of Jacksonville distributes funds, with the Chamber of Commerce taking a reduced percentage of the total.

The Jacksonville City Council unanimously passed a resolution Aug. 16 that grants the chamber 30% of lodging tax revenue for the current fiscal year instead of the 50% it previously received for operation from the visitor information center.

Lodging revenue last year totaled $238,000. The use of 50% of the money collected resulted in an increase from $81,700 in fiscal year 2017-2018 to $118,755 in 2021-2022 for the center.

“If the decision were made by the city council to reduce our funding, we would no longer be able to compete with other cities in the Rogue Valley and other destinations in Oregon,” said Amanda Moreia, director of the chamber at a conference on August 2. council meeting. “Any reallocation of funds outside of our current and planned efforts will have a substantial negative impact on businesses that rely on us for marketing support.”

Chamber officials use the money to run the center but also for promotions and activities, Moreia said. She said the organization had been fiscally conservative for several years during tough times. Further efforts to promote the city would be impacted by the cuts. The chamber was eager to ramp up its marketing plans with publications, social media, events and more.

The change will keep the overall amount paid to the chamber about the same as it received in previous years for running the center, due to a significant increase in lodging taxes, Mayor Donna Bowen said. in a written statement.

Bowen said the money is allocated to center operations and not intended to support other activities. In addition, the city continued to award Transient Lodging Grant Fund grants to the chamber for advertising, marketing, and other expenses, including Victorian Christmas, cart purchase assistance, and related expenses. to its maintenance and operation. The city also provides use of the Depot building on Oregon Street for the information center.

At the city council meeting on September 6, the management agreement with the chamber will be explored by the council. Moreia said a new management agreement must address all the work done by the chamber, not just the running of the center.

The city council said the reduced percentage would be for one year to give the city time to learn more about the operation of the chamber and the center, and for the chamber to provide a clear picture of its finances when the change was approved by the board on August 2. , before the adoption of the resolution.

Bowen called on the chamber to hire a professional accountant, saying the information provided to the board made it difficult to separate what they were doing.

Under the new rules, 20% of taxes will go towards beautification, improving travel routes, cultural and tourist facilities, and promoting visitor-related activities, events and services. Another 20% will go to the municipal administration of tourism activities and facilities.

The operation and maintenance of the visitor center will receive up to 30%, while 20% will go to a fund dedicated to parks and parking.

Accommodation operators and the city will each receive 5% to cover the collection and administration of taxes.

At the Aug. 2 meeting, City Administrator Jeff Alvis explained that center operations that exceed the 30% amount could be paid out of the 20% set aside for tourism activities and facilities, if requested and approved.

In 2018, the city received about $24,000 in lodging taxes collected from groups such as VRBO, Expedia and Hotel Tonight, which help landlords rent space to tourists, chief financial officer Stacey Bray reported. But the city didn’t have a deal with Airbnb until 2019.

Airbnb tax revenue was $53,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal year, $64,000 the following year and $109,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Total accommodation revenue was $238,000 for the last fiscal year. The city’s lodging tax rate is 9%. From 2015 to 2019, lodging tax revenue ranged between $140,000 and $165,000 per year, with the room receiving half of that.

The city’s budget committee recommended the reduced percentage for funding the visitor center at its meeting in May. The municipal councilors studied the question of the financing of the centers during the work sessions of May 17 and June 21. The Transient Accommodation Tax Committee, at a meeting on July 17, recommended that the centers’ allocation be maintained at 50%. The budget adopted by the city for the current year provided for a distribution of 30%.

Citizens who questioned the decision wondered if the city’s allocation could be used to fund a museum, Bowen wrote in his response. She noted that the council is studying the possibility of starting a museum operation.

Accommodation taxes could be one of many funding sources, she said, adding that many museum requests have been received from residents and tourists.

Contact Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at [email protected]

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