Jefferson City to vote on lodging tax increase

Monday, November 29, 2010 | 6:28 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Jefferson City voters will decide this winter whether to increase the city's lodging tax to help pay for a new conference center.

The proposal calls for raising the tax to 7 percent, up from 3 percent, to pay for a conference center that would include meeting space and a parking garage adjacent to a privately-funded hotel. The City Council voted unanimously last week to place the proposed tax increase on the February ballot.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported that some City Council members still had questions about the convention center project and expressed concerns about the proposal.

Council Member Bob Scrivner suggested reserving the additional revenue for a convention center project if the lodging tax is increased but not committing the money to the specific convention center proposal. Scrivener said he supported asking voters to increase the tax but that tight city finances had left him uncertain about the current convention center proposal.

"If we are going to ask people to vote on this in order to put this specific project as it is currently laid out with minor refinements in place, as much as I hate to, I am going to vote against it," he said.

Another council member, Bryan Pope, said he felt more comfortable putting the measure on the ballot rather than leaving it to city government to decide. He said it would be a difficult decision for the council.

"I have faith that (voters) have all of December and January to ask the questions they need to ask to come up with a decision that they see fit," Pope said.

Jefferson City Mayor John Landwehr and the city administrator say changes can still be made to the proposed convention center but that some details need to be decided before the February vote, such as land transfers between the city and housing authority.

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