NORMAN — Residents will go to the polls April 2 to vote on raising the hotel/motel room tax.
City council members Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution calling for the election, asking voters to approve increasing the tax from 4 to 5 percent tax on overnight stays in the city's 2,831 hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast rooms.
“Any increase is an improvement over our current budget,” said Stephen Koranda, executive director of the city's convention and tourism bureau.
Koranda said Norman visitors and tourism center is “glaringly underfunded,” ranking 13th of 18 among Big 12 cities.
The city retains 3 percent of the money as reimbursement for administering the tax. The remaining 97 percent is divided among the convention and visitors bureau, which gets 50 percent; the arts, which get 25 percent; and parks, which get 25 percent. The division would remain the same, if the measure is approved.
The tax, which originated in 1980, generated $1,133,930 in fiscal year 2012.
Councilman Roger Gallagher said he favored raising the rate by 1.5 cents and considered the 1 cent increase a compromise with those who preferred keeping the rate lower. Most council members said they preferred the rate to remain lower than Oklahoma City's 5.5 percent tax rate because it would give Norman a competitive edge in attracting conventions and other large group stays in the metro area.