Visitors to Allen County will soon pay a bit more to stay in hotels and other types of lodging because of a tax increase approved Thursday morning.
The Allen County Council voted 4-3 to increase the so-called innkeeper's tax from 7% to 8%, implementing a change approved by the state legislature for 10 Indiana counties.
The increase is estimated to generate $750,000 a year while increasing the price of a room by about 75 cents a night, said Dan O'Connell, president and chief executive officer of Visit Fort Wayne.
All the money would go to Visit Fort Wayne's $2.2 million annual budget and would represent a 34% increase.
The money would fund increased marketing of Fort Wayne's and Allen County's attractions, O'Connell said.
Their numbers have gone up with the opening of new venues, including Fort Wayne's riverfront and The Clyde Theatre and the growing popularity of Turnstone's adaptive sports facilities, O'Connell said.
Voting for the change were council President Tom Harris and members Joel Benz, Larry Brown and Sharon Tucker.
Voting against the increase were Ken Fries, Bob Armstrong and Kyle Kerley.
Last month, residents questioned why the council needed to raise the tax when new hotels now proposed or being built would bring in more money.
Some also questioned giving the money to one organization led by people who are not elected by the public.
Proponents have argued the tax would not be paid by local residents but would contribute to the success of local organizations.
About 30 people affiliated with hotels and venues attended the meeting to show support for the tax.
Randy Brown, executive vice president and general manager for the Coliseum, said after the meeting that the tax increase “is very good” for that venue and the region.
The money would help in attracting new business to the Coliseum, including collegiate sports tournaments, which often request marketing incentives from local officials, he said.
It comes at a good time, Brown added, because a new bidding cycle is about to begin.