Lisbon not sleeping on chamber’s share of bed tax

LISBON – The Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce is being invited to village council’s Feb. 26 meeting to give an accounting of how the organization is spending its share of revenue generated by the hotel/motel bed tax.

The issue was raised at this week’s council meeting by Councilman Jeff Snyder, who noted the bed tax revenue doubled last year, with the village and the chamber splitting the $40,181.

Snyder wondered if the chamber has ever provided them with a report detailing how the money was spent. “Is there any accountability at all?” he asked.

Someone pointed out the chamber was required to spend the tax money on tourism, and Councilwoman Mary Ann Gray said the likely response will be the funding is being spent on the organization’s annual Johnny Appleseed Festival because it brings people to town.

“Well, that’s not tourism,” Snyder said. “We could probably do something better with it.”

The 6 percent hotel/motel bed tax was adopted in the early 2000s after the section of state Route 154 where the Lisbon Inn is located was annexed into town. This is the only hotel/motel in Lisbon.

The resolution imposing the tax required the tax revenue be divided evenly between the village and Elkrun Township, with Lisbon’s share being split 50/50 with the chamber. While the village can spend the money however it sees fit, the chamber is required to use the money for tourism.

The amount of tax revenue generated more than doubled last year because of increased traffic at the Lisbon Inn, which is benefiting from the shale gas boom underway in the area that has brought in out-of-state workers.

Officials noted the Lisbon Historical Society approached the village last month for some money to help underwrite the costs of staging a program this July to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Morgan’s Raid. Officials said it might make more sense for the historical society to ask the chamber for the money.

Earlier in the meeting, Richard Henthorne from the Shade Tree Commission had requested council consider budgeting them $5,000 instead of $2,500 so they would be able resume planting more trees in the village. Council suggested this is something they could do if they had extra bed tax money.

Mayor Dan Bing suggested asking the chamber to provide them with a report detailing how its bed tax money was spent last year, and Snyder made a motion to that effect. Council President Roger Gallo recommended they instead ask the chamber to meet with them, so the motion was withdrawn.