Union Township pushes back on hotel tax

Union Township Chairman John McGraw reads a resolution at the Board of Trustees meeting on June 22, 2017, outlining opposition to the proposed hotel tax increase in Clermont County for a sporting facility.

Union Township Chairman John McGraw reads a resolution at the Board of Trustees meeting on June 22, 2017, outlining opposition to the proposed hotel tax increase in Clermont County for a sporting facility.

By Brett Milam

Union Township Chairman John McGraw announced Resolution 2017-13, opposing the proposed hotel lodging tax for a sports recreational facility at the June 22 Trustees meeting.

The resolution is in opposition to the hotel lodging tax proposed within Ohio House Bill 49, the state operating budget bill and further requests that the Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, a Republican from Clarksville, comply with the wishes and desires of Union Township and immediately remove any reference to the increase in hotel lodging tax in Clermont County for the purpose of “funding, subsidizing or otherwise supporting acquisition of a recreational sporting facility in the village of Batavia.”

“The Clermont County Commissioners in concert with the Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau paid a lobbyist, petitioned for and convinced a Ohio State representative from the 66th district [Representative Doug Green], to introduce legislation to increase taxes within Union Township and Clermont County,” McGraw said. “And whereas the proposed increased in lodging tax was not discussed publicly or privately with representatives from Union Township prior to inclusion in the state capital budget and whereas a business plan justifying the need for increase in taxes has never been delivered, discussed or even confirmed that one business plan exists with any elected or appointed official with Union Township and whereas the board promotes fiscal responsibility and transparency in an effort to provide the best possible service for our customers.”

The Union Township trustees want State Representative John Becker to carry their concerns to Rosenberger and hope the speakers complies with these wishes.

“Gentleman, I think this resolution is very important for Union Township and the reasons really are simple,” McGraw continued. “I think at this point, this amendment should be pulled out of the budget, so that we have time to discuss as a community what it means and what this will be for. We’re being asked to raise the tax on hotels in Clermont County and many may not know, but most of the hotels in Clermont County reside within Union Township.”

So most of the tax will be collected in Union Township and no consider was given to any facilities in Union Township or the board of trustees; I know if wwe had been asked, I would’ve brought up projects we have going on here that would have been just as important or maybe more important.”

McGraw brought up Tealtown Ballpark, which has played host to numerous baseball and softball tournaments, and has “filled our hotels and done a great job,” he said.

Additionally, McGraw said he was concerned that Becker was not consulted on this.

“All of this was literally done in the cover of night,” McGraw said. “This was added to the bill late at night, without knowledge of many representatives and was found out through careful searches by people who look out for Union Township.”

McGraw said it’s about sending a message that they weren’t consulted or asked.

“We’re just asking to back it off,” he said.

Trustees Lloyd Acres was also disappointed in the process.

“There’s people sitting here tonight that have probably never heard of this,” Acres said. “No transparency. All we ask is that you be transparent with us and we will work with you.”

All members, including Trustee Matthew Beamer, voted yes on the proposed resolution.

Currently, the Clermont County levies a 3 percent lodging tax and the proposed House budget, which passed on June 28, would allow the county to increase the rate of the tax by up to an additional 1 percent.

“The revenue derived from the increase in rate must be used to fund the construction and maintenance of sports and recreation facilities and to promote tourism through the county’s convention and visitors’ bureau. Unlike the tax currently levied, no portion of the revenue from the revenue derived from the increase in rate would be returned to the townships and municipal corporations in which the lodging transaction occurred,” the bill stated.

Becker wrote in a column for The Sun last week that, as of May 12, nobody from Union or Miami Township had any knowledge of the Clermont County hotel tax amendment, which had been added earlier that month. However, at the June 27 board meeting for the Clermont County CVB, Becker said he was given assurances.

“I was given assurance that all interested parties would be consulted before any plan is presented to the commissioners for a vote to impose the additional one percent lodging tax for the purposes of purchasing land for a professional sports facility,” he said.