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|Business owners toss and turn over bed tax increase|
|Written by Robert Alcaraz|
|Thursday, 15 September 2011 02:53|
With a 100 percent hike in the Tombstone bed tax, town officials suspect to see more profit, but not everybody is happy about it.
Gordon Anderson, owner of the Larian Motel, thinks that it is unfair to place new taxes only on the hospitality businesses and not others in town such as restaurants and bars.
“We have lost business because of the increase, which pretty much just puts a nail in the coffin with this economy,” says Anderson. “I think they just went after a soft target and it outrages me because we have to charge so much more; I’m just pissed.”
Anderson, who has been connected to the Larian Motel for more than 30 years, has seen the bed tax gradually increase over time. Even though his emotions on the matter are sky high, he does understand that money is a necessity for Tombstone.
“I realize that the city needs money, they need it now, and this was a quick and easy solution for them. The mayor and city council are good people, but this idea isn’t the best for everybody,” says Anderson.
Dan Vetter, manager of the Wells Fargo RV Park, agrees with Anderson.
“We feel singled out in all of this,” says Vetter. “Everyone should be pulling the same load and not just us; it truly feels counterproductive because, as a business, we are just losing income.”
Vetter, who has also seen his business lose customers, wants to see the money put to good use.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if we were seeing anything productive happen to the city, but we haven’t even seen weeds pulled.”
The bed tax was raised, town officials said, to bring more cash into the town’s general revenue fund.
George Barnes, Tombstone’s city clerk/manager, understands the frustration felt, but stresses that it needed to be done.
“Tombstone had lost 25 percent of all revenue and we needed a way to make some it back,” says Barnes. “This was a total necessity for the town.”
Barnes says that he sympathizes with everybody that is affected, but that it made sense to raise the bed tax.
“We have over 200,000 visitors a year and we don’t charge them parking or admission to many things; all we ask is an extra $2 a night,” says Barnes. “Most people probably have no idea that it is an increase and don’t even think twice about paying it.”
Passed in mid June, the increase was the first Tombstone has seen since 1995 when it was raised to 3 percent.
Barnes recollected what occurred in 1995 when the bed tax was last increased. He told the story of a city official who was in the same position as he is today. The city official, according to Barnes, knew that Tombstone’s tourism wouldn’t sputter because Tombstone is a tourist’s town. He knew that a 3 percent increase wouldn’t matter to the tourist, as long as they were able to see the town for what it is.
Barnes sat back in his chair and said, “Somehow, I think they’ll still come.”