LEDC concerned about possible cuts from Hotel/Motel tax

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 9:12 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - The Lawton Economic Development Corporation is concerned about funding after Tuesday’s Lawton City Council meeting.

When members looked at the proposal for hotel/motel tax allocations for the upcoming fiscal year, next to LEDC, the dollar amount was zero.

LEDC Chairman Ron Nance said they’ve always received over $300,000 from the hotel-motel tax, so he was shocked to see that now they could be getting nothing.

“If we lose the hotel/motel tax, then we’re just not going to be able to do everything that we need to do,” he said.

Nance said they’ve made great progress over the years, even while having less to work with than their counterparts.

“We’ve been funded at just a percentage of what our peers are funded at,” he said. “About 10% of what other economic development entities in the United States are funded at and there are 10,000 economic development entities, people that are doing exactly what we do around the country so the competition is immense.”

Mayor Stan Booker and several council members were against cutting the funding.

“We’ve raised the LEDC budget to be pretty much equal with the City of Duncan’s Economic Development budget, a city one third or one fourth our size, and the results have been amazing,” he said. “We’ve had three job announcements in what? Ninety days.”

Ultimately, they voted to table the item until the next meeting.

According to Booker, the only other option for funding would be the CIP, but that would be tough.

“The problem is we have a lot of items that are going after that CIP money,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s not a sustainable plan and there was no plan put forth to explain why it was cut out.”

Nance said the hotel motel tax is an important source for them because it’s a long-running generator of economic dollars.

“We can provide and save a lot of jobs, not just new jobs,” he said. “It’s existing jobs we’ll be able to preserve. We think over the next fifteen years, we can create 5 or 10,000 thousand additional jobs or retain those jobs.”

He said although there are other great projects in the community, this one shouldn’t fall by the wayside.

“The thing about economic development is if you do it first, you can do everything because it generates additional dollars, it generates additional taxes it generates additional salaries, it helps prosperity for every level,” he said.

The projected revenue for the fiscal year from the hotel/motel tax is about $1.2 million.

If approved, the proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting would give the Chamber of Commerce $750,000.

The rest would go toward several tourism organizations and the Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority.

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