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Lower tax could lure new hotels to Mt. Juliet

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Mt. Juliet City Commission is planning to lower the hotel and motel occupancy tax in hopes of attracting a large national-chain hotel to locate in Mt. Juliet.

The second and final vote is scheduled for Monday night’s commission meeting.

The city currently receives 5 percent of the 19.25 percent occupancy tax charged to hotel and motel visitors in Wilson County. 

If the change passes on second reading, the total will go from 19.25 percent to 18.25 in Mt. Juliet, with the city receiving 4 percent, for a net savings of 20 percent.

Mayor Ed Hagerty, who sponsored the ordinance, said he’s concerned about reports that Mt. Juliet possibly has the highest occupancy tax in the state, or maybe even in the nation.

“I don’t like that to be the reputation of our city,” he said.

When the tax decrease was voted on a week ago, on first reading, District 4 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw cast the only “no” vote. He said he’s concerned the decrease might affect the county’s attempts to get its portion of the occupancy tax raised.

Not that Bradshaw wants that attempt to succeed: in fact, he said he fears that Mt. Juliet lowering its portion of the tax might encourage the county to continue pushing to raise the overall occupancy tax rate.

In January, the Wilson County Commission asked the state to allow the county to increase the local hotel occupancy privilege tax by 3 percent.

In response, Mt. Juliet City Commission sent a request to State Sen. Mae Beavers and State Reps. Susan Lynn and Mark Pody to take no action on the county’s request.

At that time, Vice Mayor and District 2 Commissioner James Maness said the proposed increase would be bad for business and could cause the area to lose jobs or new business.

“The county has tried to do that for two years now,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve been an opponent of that. I lobbied hard to stop that increase.”

Bradshaw said that despite his “no” vote on first reading, he supports lowering the tax and may vote for it on second reading. “I just hope this doesn’t send the wrong message to the county and the state,” he explained.

Hagerty also said the proposed tax decrease is connected to the city’s attempts to recruit a large national hotel chain to build a state-of-the-art hotel and convention center in Mt. Juliet.

“There is a correlation to the new hotel chain,” he said. “When we talked to them, they expressed concern about the high occupancy tax.”

The mayor said he hoped that this move would encourage the hotel developers to come to Mt. Juliet.

Plus, because attracting additional hotel and motel rooms would bring more taxpaying visitors to Mt. Juliet, the tax proposal might benefit city coffers, according to Hagerty. Despite decreasing taxes, “this could increase our revenues,” he said.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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hotel and motel tax, Mt. Juliet City Commission
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