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Fiscal court ponders new transient tax

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New levy would only affect travelers renting a place to sleep for the night

By Molly Haines

With an eye toward the future of Owen County tourism, the Owen County Fiscal Court may soon pass an ordinance for a transient room tax.
The tax was first discussed nearly a year ago when several alumni of the Owen County Visioneers — formerly known as Leadership Owen County — attended a fiscal court workshop to discuss the benefits of a transient room tax.
If the ordinance is passed, it would mean a 3-percent tax would be charged to anyone renting a place to sleep in Owen County.
According to the ordinance, the tax would include motor courts, motels, hotels, inns or similar accommodations. Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said the ordinance would also include campgrounds.
The first reading of the ordinance is expected to take place during Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting.
Owen County Visioneer alumni David Morgan attended the Jan. 25 fiscal court workshop on behalf of the Visioneers to discuss once more the possibility of a transient room tax.
Morgan said the Visioneers had made the tax one of their main goals.
“We see it as a way to bring new money into the county instead of just passing the same money from business to business,” Morgan said. “I think one of the most important things to point out about this is that this is not a tax on us, but instead a tax for us.”
A separate ordinance establishing a tourism and convention commission will also receive a first reading at the fiscal court meeting Tuesday. The commission would work toward developing and promoting conventions and tourism activities.
Money collected from the tax would be turned over to Owen County Treasurer Norma McDonald, who would serve as the commission’s collection agency. Morgan said that several years ago transient room taxes in some Kentucky counties generated about $40,000 a year.
Money gained from the tax could go toward community development, which could help fund a community development director.
“It would take a while to set up and money would need to be built up to move forward,” Morgan said. “A community development director’s job would be to promote this county and come up with new ways to get people here to spend their money. This is a very positive thing for Owen County and it doesn’t cost the county anything.”
A special meeting of the Owen County Fiscal Court was held preceding the court’s monthly workshop.
Christina Edwards was appointed to the Owen County Health Board and Bobby Walker was re-appointed to the board.
Todd Spurgeon and James Cammack were renamed to the Owen County Industrial Board.