It's a decision that's affecting Vermilion Parish. Do you continue to support youth athletics in your community, or do you give relief to local hotel owners that could possibly bring more dollars to the economy?
It's an argument that has two outcomes.
“They've either gone to Lafayette or New Iberia, because the tax is too high,” says Della Hardy, manager of the Sun Belt Lodge in Abbeville.
“Without that a lot of kids in the parish wouldn't have any monies to participate in youth athletics,” Police Jury President Wayne Touchet responds.
Last night, the Vermilion Parish Police jury unanimously denied their support to repeal a two percent hotel tax. That two percent funds equipment and uniforms for youth athletics.
Personally, I think this tax is good for our kids. I'd hate to see it go,” says Touchet.
The tax was created in Baton Rouge by state legislators, not by the Police Jury. It's not only the two percent tax that's burdening local hotel owners. It's the sum of multiple taxes that equal a total of 16.5 percent.
“We're not a tourist town. I mean Houston's not even 16.5,” says Hardy.
Hardy says most people choose to stay in neighboring parishes that only have around 12 percent taxes for hotels. They have to keep rates comparable, that means owners are losing money.
“I had to let employees go and just to try to make ends meet,” replies Hardy.
Police Jury President Wayne Touchet understands the Parish is not a tourist hot spot. It's mainly contracted workers that stay in hotels for businesses, who are also focusing on the bottom line.
“I don't think they're going to drive to Lafayette or new Iberia to save $1.60 on a room rate when gasoline is at four dollars a gallon,” Touchet says.
The repeal movement is headed by the Tourist Commission and all hotel owners are in support, but it's not up to the Police Jury.
Touchet affirms, “All we can do is support the tourist commissions efforts if we wanted to, last night the jury unanimously voted not to support their efforts.”