New bill will enforce hotel tax

New bill will enforce hotel tax

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Governor Nathan Deal has signed a new $900 million transportation bill into law. The law becomes effective on July 1. State transportation officials have said the new revenue will go toward a backlog of road and bridge maintenance. The package sets gas taxes at 26 cents per gallon.

The law is expected to raise 900-million dollars a year to maintain roads and bridges.

Deal said the state hasn't increased taxes on fuel since 1971  and the projects the money will pay for are critical.

That transportation bill is also taxing hotels and that will have to add additional fees to their rates.

One Albany hotel manager, I spoke with said she's concerned that the new tax will harm a particular group of business owners.

Hotel customers in Georgia will soon see a hike in price on their hotel bills because of a new fee included in the new transportation funding bill. Best Western General Manager Jaye Lomax said it's a tax that has several hotel managers concerned.

“We have mixed feelings about it," said Jaye Lomax, Best Western General Manager.

The $5 nightly fee will be tacked onto hotel and motel stays to help fund maintenance of highways and bridges. It's a fee Lomax believes will hurt small business owners traveling for work.

“Bigger companies, yeah they can afford it and they will pay taxes. Their business won't go down, but the small businesses it's going to hurt them,” continued Jaye Lomax.

The bill could make small hotels suffer as a result. The new fees are expected to raise at least $150 million dollars each year, but could rise or fall depending on hotel occupancy rate. Lomax's hotel has an 80% occupancy rate a year and she says 50 percent of her customers are small business owners.

“Instead of 5 rooms, they'll go down to 2 rooms or 3 rooms," said Jaye Lomax.

Lomax said hotels could have to start looking for new ways to fill their vacant rooms.

“If I lose 20% of that business, I will have to go look for 20 % extra business."

Lomax also said she wishes state leaders would've taken a different approach.

“As a hotelier and a sales manager they need to go out and get the business instead of raising taxes."

The hospitality industry would make up 20% of the cost of the transportation bill. They're lobbying Governor Nathan Deal to scale back the fee and looking at litigation options that could prevent the rate from taking effect in July.

Copyright 2015 WALB. All rights reserved.