Hotel managers are infuriated that the town wants to raise the bed tax from 3 percent to 5 percent to fund a police academy.
"When I started here at the Holiday Inn back in 1996, the bed tax was $1 per room," said Pauline Muggli, general manager of the Payson Holiday Inn Express. "Now the tax adds almost $10 per room. It's not that I'm against a police academy or police training, but I think it needs to be looked at. Hotel guests already complain about the taxes right now."
The first reading and public hearing for the increase is on the agenda of the regular council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Bobby Patel, who owns the Days Inn and Suites, said he was unaware of the proposed increase.
"We already have a high tax rate right now," Patel said. "When you add up all the taxes (on a hotel room) it's 11.2 percent."
Patel, who previously managed hotels in Flagstaff, Williams, Prescott and Prescott Valley, said the industry average is between 10 and 11 percent.
"If (the town) jumps the tax another 2 percent, that puts us in a high bracket," he said.
Yulei "Allen" Bai, manager of the Budget Inn and Suites, agreed.
"I'm not happy with the tax increase," Bai said. "If the tax goes from 3 to 5 percent, it will be hard to run my motel."
Bai also said that except for one occasion, the police department has not been responsive when he has had to call for help.
"In this business, we need a high performing police department," he said. We like using money for a good police department, but we don't know how much (of the additional) money they'll use on it."
The two managers indicated the tax would be more tolerable if the town planned to use the extra revenue to increase tourism, and Bai said the town's hotel managers should have been consulted.
"If they had talked to the managers, they would know what we think," he said.
Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the hotel operators had not been consulted, but said they should have known about the issue because it was in the Roundup.
"We didn't actually call a meeting (with the hotels), but maybe that's what the council will ask us to do," Carpenter said. "I'm going to ask (Payson Police) Chief (Gordon) Gartner to talk to them."
Carpenter also said that Payson's bed tax rate would be among the highest in the state, but he said there is a rationale for using bed tax money on a police academy.
"We have a lot of tourism as a result of our location," he said. "Tourism itself puts more pressure on the police. That's the argument that's being used."