SCOTTSBLUFF — The Scottsbluff City Council Tuesday night chose to dismiss an ordinance that would have doubled the city’s hotel occupation tax.
The ordinance would have raised the tax from 4% to 8% on lodging in the city. Combined with sales tax and tourism tax, the measure would have increased the total to a 21% hit to the consumer. With the rejection of the ordinance, the tax will remain at 17% with the city’s portion staying at 4%.
Hotel owner Clarence Gealy told the council that when it initially put in the 4% tax, it was a detriment to the hotel business. Gealy indicated that the additional tax would make business even more difficult.
The council held its first public hearing on the city’s nearly $45.5 million budget. State requirements say there must be three public hearings prior to submission of the budget on Sept. 20, so there will be a special council meeting Tuesday at noon for the second hearing and the third will come at the council’s regular meeting Sept. 16. The proposed budget provides for a 2% cost of living increase for the city’s regular staff. Police, fire and public works union contract talks are ongoing.
In addition, the council chose to hold off on plans to sell three parking lots along Second Avenue, instead waiting for further input on the proposals. The proposal is to sell two lots to Western States Bank at $20,000 each and one to Chaloupka, Holyoke, Snyder, Chaloupka & Longoria PC, LLO, for $12,500. City engineers have assessed the lots and determined that needed resurfacing would cost approximately $100,000. The council questioned whether the loss of the three lots would limit parking during special events downtown too much, and whether the repairs were truly needed.
“Structurally, they’re tired,” Public Works Director Mark Bohl told the council. “They may not look it, but they at least need to be overlaid.”