Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 1, 2013

CVB seeks to keep 5 percent tax

First tourism grants made

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— Sometime in the next few months, the Kokomo/Howard County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau will ask the Howard County Council to maintain the innkeeper’s tax at 5 percent.

The innkeeper’s tax, which funds operations of the CVB, is set to sunset back to 4 percent at the end of the year. The tax rate was increased several years ago to fund the purchase of the Kokomo Event Center.

Once the bonds were returned on the Event Center, the CVB has since been receiving an additional $100,000 to $125,000 per year.

The innkeeper’s tax in Howard County was established by separate legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly.

But instead of continuing to be covered by legislation geared solely to Howard County, the CVB board is expected to seek to be governed under the innkeeper’s tax uniform code, which covers all Indiana counties.

The majority of Indiana’s convention and visitor’s bureaus are organized under what is known as the Indiana Uniform Innkeepers Tax which was first adopted in the 1980s. The code allows any local entity to adopt a lodging tax of up to 5 percent, with the tax being used for local tourism development and promotions.

CVB board members indicated last week that they were meeting with an attorney in March and would request that the Howard County Council adopt the innkeeper’s tax under the state’s uniform code at the 5 percent rate.

Richard Miller, president of the Howard County Council, said Tuesday he would have to see the proposal from the CVB before commenting on the potential request.

In other business

The CVB board awarded the first two tourism grants that were established in 2012.

The CVB has set aside $35,000 for 2013 to help promote events in Howard County that increase the number of overnight stays.

The Kokomo Civil Theater received $1,500 for a regional theater festival in March, which was the full amount requested.

Kokomo Speedway requested $5,000 and received $2,500 to promote the Kokomo Smack Down, three days of sprint car racing in August.

Sherry Matlock, tourism specialist with the CVB, said a total of ten grant applications have been received. She said a committee is reviewing three at a time.

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