The Florence City Council voted Tuesday night to not pass a three percent lodging tax increase.
Emotions were high at the meeting and a lot of people spoke. The lodging tax increase would have raised the tax to 14 percent. The council tied in votes and the motion failed.
A number of hotel owners took the floor. They said every hotel owner in the city opposed the tax increase.
The tax was proposed to raise money to fix the roads. It’s something City Council President Dick Jordan says is vital to encourage tourism.
“I think essentially people are gonna come where they have good roads and can get in and out of a city rather than having pot holes in the roads,” Jordan said.
Those who house the tourists strongly disagree. They questioned why fixing roads should fall on the back of the lodging industry.
“I’ve been in this town for 28 years building different properties over here,” said one hotel owner. “Not one customer in 28 years has ever mentioned to me, ‘do something about your roads.'”
“Budgets,” stressed another hotel official. “Those should’ve been calculated. We budget every day. I budget every five minutes when I’m at my business.”
One man spoke for the tax increase. He said people needed to tighten their belts and move forward with the proactive city.
“If they say we need an increase we need an increase,” he said.
Others said their belts were on the last loop.
City council members asked where the money would come from if not from the tax increase. Now the money will just have to be found somewhere else.
A one percent sales tax increase also did not pass. It too had a tied vote and many people spoke against it.