In its last meeting of 2009, Reynoldsburg City Council approved increasing the city's hotel tax from 4 percent to 6 percent.

In its last meeting of 2009, Reynoldsburg City Council approved increasing the city's hotel tax from 4 percent to 6 percent.

The vote on Dec. 28 was 4-2. Councilman Ron Stake voted against the legislation along with Councilman Doug Joseph. Councilwoman Donna Shirey was not able to attend the meeting.

Councilman Mel Clemens first raised the possibility of increasing the hotel tax (also known as a bed tax) during an October finance committee meeting. At the time, council members were discussing the possibility of placing $25,000 from the city's annual bed tax funds into the Reynoldsburg Economic Development Inc. (REDI) fund.

Clemens suggested raising the bed tax from 4 percent to 6 percent to match the rate charged in most surrounding communities.

The bed tax is charged on the total cost a customer pays to stay in a hotel in Reynoldsburg. It only can be collected from hotels within a municipality's boundaries and only if a convention and visitors bureau has been established and registered in the community.

The Reynoldsburg Visitors and Community Activities Bureau receives 60 percent of the city's annual bed tax intake, with a cap of $75,000 per year. The city collects the remaining 40 percent.
According to Reynoldsburg auditor Richard Harris, the current bed tax rate in Columbus is 5.1 percent while Dublin, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall, Worthington and Canal Winchester all charge 6 percent.

Harris said the 2 percent increase in Reynoldsburg's bed tax could mean an additional $80,000 for the city each year.

"We're one of the few who do not charge 6 percent," Clemens said. "People who stay in hotels in Reynoldsburg or Columbus, they do not call ahead and see who's charging 4 percent and who's charging 6 percent."

He said the bed tax is a way "to increase revenue we need without our residents having anything to pay for, and there are very few times can we do that."

Stake said he thought it was "ridiculous to pass a tax increase on anybody in this economy." Residents might not be affected, but hotel owners will be, he said.

"You're passing it on to the business owner who has a business in Reynoldsburg and they'll have to collect the tax. You may be cutting into their profits, you may be cutting into the fact of whether they're more competitive or not," Stake said.

"Other surrounding communities might have it at 6 percent, but we had a little competitive edge by being less than everybody else."

Joseph agreed and said it was not the right time to put additional burdens on businesses in the city.

"We have trouble bringing business into the city already, and sure it is a pass through, but maybe people will come back through and say 'Oh, I'm going to be paying more for taxes, maybe I'll go to Pickerington or somewhere else,' " Joseph said.

Council president William Hills said some of the extra money raised by the bed tax increase could be used to help the Parks and Recreation Department pay for what the school district charges for renting its facilities for the department's volleyball and basketball programs, possibly offsetting any future increases in participation fees.

Also, the increase in the bed tax could help with giving the REDI fund the proposed $25,000 per year. That legislation is on hold until February, pending further discussion by the finance committee.