Medicine Park voters to decide on 5.5% lodging tax

Medicine Park voters to decide on 5.5% lodging tax

MEDICINE PARK, OK (KSWO) - Those looking to spend the night in Medicine Park might soon find themselves spending a little bit extra in the form of a lodging tax.

Residents will head to the polls Tuesday, June 13 to decide if the town should adopt a 5 ½ percent lodging tax on all of their hotels, motels and cabins.

All of the money would go directly back into helping the town. Medicine Park officials said had the tax been collected over the last year, it would have amounted to $25,000.

Tourism is the main driver of Medicine Park's economy, so Chairman of the Medicine Park Economic Development Authority Travis McBride said it makes sense to use their biggest attraction to make the town better.

"We're a very small town we have less than 400 residents," McBride said. "Right now, essentially most of our money to run the town comes from sales tax revenue, which is great, but just like any other small town, we're always looking for something else. We have hundreds if not thousands of people coming every week, especially on the weekends."

McBride said in the past when city officials in Medicine Park have looked at ways to increase revenue, they've turned to a common, but unpopular method.

"Anytime we need extra money we're just like a lot of other towns, we put it on the water bill," McBride said. "Over the past four or five years, I've lived in Medicine Park, the water, sewer and trash rates have increased three times."

This time, McBride said the town decided to put the onus on those visiting Medicine Park, rather than those calling it home. They'll use the money to bring in even more tourists.

"Forty-percent for tourism, marketing, that's essentially money that would go to the Economic Development Authority. That could be used for anything from advertising for radio, TV. Billboards were a big issue that a lot of people wanted, to get some big billboards," McBride said.

McBride said ten-percent will go to both the town's parks and recreation department and its rainy day fund, with the last forty-percent being used for infrastructure.

"Like every other small town, our roads are a big issue and they cost a lot of money," McBride said.

McBride said even if some kind of issue at their home forces locals to rent out a hotel room or a cabin in town, they will not be charged the lodging tax. It will only apply to out of towners.

Election day is Tuesday, June 13 but early voting begins Thursday, June 8.

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