After Niagara-on-the-Lake last year introduced a two per cent accommodation tax on hotel rooms, the new council must contend with how to use the new source of revenue.
Councillors took a small step forward on the matter just before Christmas when they voted to build a balanced committee of stakeholders and residents to manage the accommodation tax.
The new municipal accommodation tax committee will have two members from the tourism industry, two town residents, two councillors and one representative from the destination marketing committee.
There was much chatter at council’s Dec. 13 committee meeting as several councillors wanted to make sure interest groups like the agriculture sector, tourism industry and residents were well-represented on the committee.
“I guess my concern is an unwieldy large group,” Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa told councillors.
He favoured a broadly represented committee, though.
According to a staff report, the committee will “develop criteria” on how to use the room tax revenue and make recommendations on the projects funded by it.
“I would like to see some clarification on what the (accommodation) tax can and cannot be spent on,” Coun. Maria Mavridis said at council’s next meeting, on Dec. 20.
Town treasurer Kyle Freeborn responded that the revenue has to be used on “tourism infrastructure” and not to “offset existing expenses.”
Coun. Wendy Cheropita suggested the two residents on the tourism strategy committee also sit on the accommodation committee.
“What you want to have is some alignment to the tourism strategy,” she said. “It may, for consistency, be a good idea to consider that.”
While council approved staff’s recommendations on the committee structure, it did not assign any members of council to it.
Town staff is in the process of recruiting other members of the committee.