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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Letter: Hotel tax should apply to all accommodations
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Dear editor:

I read last week’s article (The Lake Report, June 23) regarding the hotel tax to be implemented on July 1.

This tax is deeply unfair. Only accommodations with five rooms or more are to pay it. The other 286 short-term rentals are not required to charge it (for now). Why is it only the accommodation industry is responsible for promoting tourism and not all the other businesses that benefit, such as restaurants, retail, the Shaw, the golf course and wineries?
As I predicted a few months ago, the town is planning to hire another employee to “manage the levy” at a salary of $70,000 a year. As it is predicted town revenue will be around $500,000 — this means 20 per cent of that money is gone off the top.
The other option is to have a third party company manage the tax. Obviously this would cost more and again impact the amount of money the town gets. The way this council has no hesitation to spend money, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go the more expensive route.
How will this be policed? The last I heard the accommodation providers would be responsible to report how many rooms they rented. Will the town be allowed to peruse the records of these businesses? Not sure they legally can. While they can come in to check fire issues or room issues I am not sure they have the legal right to look at the “books.”
The town right now can’t seem to police short-term rentals that rent more rooms than they are licensed for or don’t even have a licence. In this situation the town went the route of a third party to look after this aspect. To actually police this will more staff have to be hired
Does this mean more $70,000 salaries?
How will the money for tourism promotion be spent? How will the effect of this spending be measured? Do we need to increase the number of visitors to town? Do we have the accommodations to handle any increase?
How will the money the town receives be spent? According to the article, the only thought to spend the money was a donation to the museum. So we are raising money that we don’t even know what we will spend it on.
This town council has no problem spending our tax dollars instead of cutting back on non-essential services and spending money wisely. For most of us, we watch our expenses so that we don’t spend more than we have coming in. Should that also not apply to council?
Can’t wait to see what new tax this council comes up with to cover their mismanagement of the town budget.