Press Editorial: How to handle hospitality tax?The Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau is a wealth of information, offers a cozy welcome to outsiders in its building, which is conveniently located off the interstate, and is essential to promoting the area — helping bring in tourists, rallies, sporting events and business gatherings with travelers from across the state and nation.
The Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau is a wealth of information, offers a cozy welcome to outsiders in its building, which is conveniently located off the interstate, and is essential to promoting the area — helping bring in tourists, rallies, sporting events and business gatherings with travelers from across the state and nation.
Its staff, through promotion and dedication, brings money and business to the area. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But could the process work more efficiently or the money be distributed throughout the community in a different manner? Questions have recently been brought up regarding how much taxpayer money should go to the bureau and who should oversee where it is spent.
The CVB is funded through all of Dickinson’s 2 percent occupancy tax and through a minimum 20 percent of the city’s 1 percent hospitality tax.
The non-profit CVB’s 2010 budget estimates are $440,000 revenue and $322,895 expenses, according to information provided by the city.
The CVB also held about $200,000 in reserve in September, according to city information.
The proposal would change the way the hospitality tax is allocated. If the amendment passes, the amount allotted to the CVB would be up to city commissioners’ discretion during the annual budget process, which would mean 20 percent of the hospitality tax each year would not automatically flow into the CVB’s coffers.
Mayor Dennis Johnson feels the occupancy tax is generating money because of Dickinson’s strong economy and such an influx of promotion may not be needed. If the occupancy tax dropped too low under the new amendment, Johnson said the commission could always increase the amount of the hospitality tax to accommodate it. The change would allow an elected governing body to decide how much money was needed for visitor promotion.
North Dakota code does not require 100 percent of the occupancy tax to go to the bureau, nor does it require the minimum 20 percent. These are city-specific codes.
Johnson says there needs to be more thought put into how these dollars are used because they are coming from taxes.
CVB Director Terri Thiel feels the proposed change could make the process too political.
Thiel and CVB Board members (which are chosen by the CVB and approved by the commission) have worked closely in the past with the city administrator on the bureau’s goals, budgets and strategic plan.
There is always room for more communication between any entity which receives taxpayer money and city leaders who are chosen by the taxpayers.
This change could make that happen.
But how do the taxpayers feel? This is a chance to let the city know how this relationship should work before it comes to a vote. A public hearing regarding the proposal is at 6 p.m. on Monday at City Hall, 99 Second St. E. All are encouraged to share their input.
If you can’t make it, contact the mayor or your commissioners and let them know what you think:
- Johnson-701-456-6716 or email@example.com
- Joe Frenzel-701-225-8183 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gene Jackson-701-483-1284 or email@example.com
- Carson Steiner-701-483-3444 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shirley Dukart-701-290-2283 or email@example.com.
— The Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of
importance to the community.