Hotel and motel guests in Payson may be paying a little more for their rooms, but the added revenue from a bed tax increase should help the town relocate the rodeo grounds.
At the regular meeting of the Town Council Thursday, the council unanimously approved a request by Glenn Smith, the town's chief financial officer, to authorize an ordinance that would make the bed tax 3 percent of the cost of a room. The tax is currently a flat $1 per room per night.
In his request to the council, Smith estimated that the proposed rate increase would generate $144,000 annually and add $64,000 a year in revenues to the town's budget.
Bed taxes in 1998-1999 are estimated to bring in $79,000, most of which will go to provide funds for the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Smith's proposal includes $35,000 for rodeo grounds operations and maintenance, $15,000 for project manager Barry Cardinael's contract and $13,000 for marketing expenses.
Doug Brackin, owner of Majestic Mountain Inn, and Dan Rama, of the Trails End Motel, argued against the proposal during the public commentary.
Brackin told the council that moving the rodeo grounds should be the business of the town, not the responsibility of hotel and motel guests, and that the bed tax was passed to collect money to promote, develop and enhance tourism.
Council member Ken Murphy said, "I believe the bed tax money going for rodeo relocation directly relates to tourism. We're limited right now by not having a covered arena."
Murphy said more events could be held in the new covered arena, bringing more people and additional revenue to the 12 hotels in town.
In other business Thursday, the council approved a request for a liquor license for the Wal-Mart Supercenter. The vote was 6-0, with Mayor Vern Stiffler abstaining.
An attorney for the corporation explained to the council that although the license is being requested now, there is no intent to sell liquor at the present site. The license is being requested at this time to enable the sale of liquor at the Supercenter now under construction across from Town Hall.
The liquor license was obtained through a transfer from Weber's IGA Food Store, which has gone out of business.
The council also unanimously approved a request by LaRon Garrett, public works engineer, to award the maintenance contract for dirt roadway blading and application of soil stabilizer to D.D. Haught Inc. for a base amount of $38,048. and to pay for additional blading at the rate of 18 cents per linear foot and for additional soil stabilizer at 22 cents per linear foot.