[StBernard] Battle over motel tax erupts in St. Bernard

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Thu Oct 2 00:10:59 EDT 2008

I would like to know the specifics of the proposed Motel tax. The Orleans
parish Hotel-Motel tax was also sold on the basis that tourists would foot
the bill when, in fact, the tax also included parking lots and restaurants.
Being employed in the city meant that I also paid this tax every time I
parked (daily) and every time I ate lunch. I certainly agree that the
parish could use the revenue, but I haven't seen and specifics about this
proposal, and that concerns me.

John R.

Battle over motel tax erupts in St. Bernard
Voters to get final say on tourism proposal Wednesday, October 01,
Paul Rioux
Voters in Saturday's election will decide whether to impose a
motel tax on overnight visitors in St. Bernard Parish to finance

Parish President Craig Taffaro said the tax would generate $40,000
$50,000 a year for the parish's tourism department, which has
stepped up
efforts to advertise the parish's history and culture after

"This is a way to market the parish to tourists without having to
residents," Taffaro said.

But the owner of the lone motel in St. Bernard Parish said the tax
hinder his efforts to repair damage from Katrina.

"This tax is not going to come from people checking in. It's going
to come
from my remodeling fund," said Bob Berthelot, who owns the Marina
Motel on
Paris Road in Chalmette.

He said 98 of 134 rooms are back in commerce more than three years
Katrina swamped the motel.

The 2-percent tax would be paid by visitors staying at the motel as
well as
bed-and-breakfasts, RV parks and fishing camps. For a one-night stay
at the
motel, where the average rate is $69, the tax would be $1.38.

Voters narrowly defeated an identical motel tax proposal in 2003 by

Gidget McDougall, St. Bernard's tourism director, said motel taxes
levied in more than two-thirds of parishes statewide, including
Jefferson and St. Tammany.

"We stand at an unfair advantage because we don't collect this fee
promote our parish as a tourist destination by emphasizing its
heritage and culture," McDougall recently told the Parish Council,
passed a resolution supporting the tax.

Berthelot said he plans to campaign against the tax with a newspaper
ad and

"The timing of this is premature," he said. "Give me a chance to get
back on
my feet first."

Parish officials said the 2-percent tax is the minimum allowed by
the state
and is much lower than in neighboring New Orleans, which levies a

"I don't feel like we're asking for too much," Taffaro said.

. . . . . . .

Paul Rioux can be reached at prioux at timespicayune.com or

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