Danedri Thompson
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It’s not officially part of the 2014 budget, but there will be one tax increase in Gardner next year.
Gardner City Council members agreed to raise the transient guest, or hotel tax, from 6 percent to 8 percent during a city council meeting on Aug. 5.
The tax is dedicated by ordinance to economic development and in the past several years has provided funds to the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce, the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Council, Gardner Community Theatre and the Gardner Historical Museum.
Council member Larry Fotovich suggested lowering or eliminating the tax in the hopes that the rate would create an economic competitive advantage and lure additional hotels to the city.
“To me, the greater goal would be to decrease the tax,” Fotovich said. “The best way to increase the consumption is to lower the price.”
Council member Steve Shute said most travelers aren’t actually paying the tax. They are business travelers and the tax is therefore paid by their companies.
“Most places that have transient guest taxes have business travelers and they don’t see that bite,” he said.
Council member Heath Freeman said he asked city staff to look into increasing Gardner’s transient tax.
“Again, it comes back to alternate funding sources,” he said.
The money can not be used to lower citizen tax rates or to fund city infrastructure.
The increased tax rates is higher than guest tax rates in Olathe, Shawnee, De Soto and Merriam, which sit at 6 percent, and Spring Hill and Bonner Springs at 4 percent; equal to tax rates in Lenexa and Leawood; and lower than the 9 percent rates charged in Mission and Overland Park.
“I don’t see how anyone can get excited about a tax even if it’s a tax on someone else,” Fotovich said.
He was out voted. All four other council members supported the tax increase.