County OK's tourist tax hike

By Vicki Hyatt | Feb 19, 2013

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved draft legislation that would increase the occupancy tax on overnight accommodations in Haywood County from 4 percent to 6 percent.

The Canton Board of Aldermen approved the draft bill last week, and other municipalities in the county are also being asked to weigh in on the measure.

There was no opposition at the Monday evening meeting where the commissioners considered the measure. Commission Chairman Mark Swanger said he had received no calls on the issue and noted at a meeting attended by numerous accommodation owners last week, only three said the opposed the idea.

“Usually if there is opposition out there, you hear about it,” he said.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority has been discussing ways to increase the number of visitors in the county for several years. Ideas range from improved sporting complexes to enhanced entertainment venues.

Extra funds generated by a higher tax paid by those renting hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or vacation rentals will be earmarked for capital improvements.

TDA Executive Director Lynn Collins briefed the commissioners on the draft legislation, a measure that must be introduced in the N.C. General Assembly before March 5 to be considered this session.  If the deadline is missed, it will be two years before the issue can be brought up again.

Swanger said N.C. Sen. Jim Davis, (R-Franklin) has agreed to sponsor the measure. Sen. Joe Sam Queen, a Waynesville Democrat, said he would support the measure, Swanger said, and he hasn’t heard yet whether Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Brusnville) is on board.

While issues that impact a local area must be passed by the entire N.C. General Assembly, generally the bills are approved without debate if the area legislators are backers.