LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - City Council approved the beginnings of a tax increase, one that won’t impact the people of Lawton’s wallets.
A bump in the Hotel Motel Tax from 5.5 percent to 7 percent is what the people of Lawton will be voting on in February.. and if it doesn’t pass the funding goes away altogether.
“It means everything to all of us, otherwise it totally goes away, and we will have zero money to go to any organization in the entire city. The money would just quit and that would be devastating," said Ward 4 Council member Jay Burk.
Currently this tax helps to fund many organizations in town... the majority focused on art and city beautification.
“The Lawton Ft. Sill community has multiple things surrounding communities don’t have.. the wildlife refuge, the military installation, great shopping and great districts not even to mention the art community," said Lawton Chamber President Dr. Krista Ratliff.
For those against a tax increase, it’s important to note who this increase will actually impact.
“It will not affect our citizens directly or military personnel on orders. It will only affect visitors from out of town," said City Manager Michael Cleghorn.
“If you have to go to a hotel, all you have to do is show your ID or whatever that shows you live in Lawton, and you don’t pay the hotel motel tax," said Burk.
The chamber of commerce said part of this plan involved the hotels and motels across town, who will be administering the jump.
“The hotel industry is supportive of it because they understand the relationship between increasing that tax and the improvements within the community. That increase will contribute to tourism, marketing.. letting people in the surrounding states know what Lawton Ft. Sill has to offer," said Dr. Ratliff.
Burk also points out that Wichita Falls tax is at 9 percent, while sits at 5.5... and even if it passes, Lawton’s would still be 1.5 percent lower.
With the approval tonight, voters will head to the polls February ninth to make the final decision.