JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - With no reservations, Johnson City says it wants it, and so does the city's Chamber of Commerce -- raising the hotel-motel tax from five to eight percent on lodging costs charged by hotel operators.
"We went across the street and said we hope that we can pursue this," Chamber President Gary Mabrey said. "We later found out that the timing was wrong."
Wrong because it turns out a five-percent cap was placed on hotel-motel tax in 1980 by the Tennessee General Assembly. Chamber of Commerce President Gary Mabrey tells us Johnson City wants the tax hike to expand recreational fields, upgrade Freedom Hall and its adjacent sports complex, and for wayfaring signage.
Plus, he wants to keep the city competitive in drawing events that will put people in hotel beds who spend money during their stay, events such as the Southern Conference tournament now that ETSU is rejoining that conference. "We're looking forward to the university and the SOCON, and what that means regionally," Mabrey said. "We're excited about all the alphabets because when the alphabets come here, they make numbers. And those numbers mean dollars. The visitors in the most recent number we have spent $215 million dollars or so in the county. So if you do the math that's a lot of hundreds of millions of dollars in this county."
But before more dollars roll in, Mabrey says the city will have to put it in park for awhile. "In the meantime, we'll re-think, re-strategize and we'll go back in next year when the assembly reconvenes and get this increase for the good of our recreational and visitor community," he said.