Oct 12, 2012 5:50 PM by Jenise Fernandez

Occupancy tax in Vermilion Parish not on ballot

The Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission is losing money in hopes of boosting tourism. This after the tourist commission decided not to put an occupancy tax on the November 6th ballot. In 2005, the occupancy tax in the parish went from 2 percent to 5 percent. Money from the parish tax funded non-profit youth organizations, the Vermilion Parish Tourist Commission, and the Abbeville Film and Visitor District. The occupancy tax has never been brought to a public vote.

Executive director of the tourist commission, Alison Miller, says when visitors stay in a hotel or campgrounds in Vermilion Parish, they pay an additional sales tax. Miller says allowing the occupancy tax to expire means the total tax will go down from 16-percent to 11.5 percent.

"Sixteen percent was way too high for what we have to offer. That's closer to New Orleans' rates," she said.

Miller says more affordable accommodations means more people paying to stay overnight in the parish, which would boost more dollars in tourism.

"Reducing our tax closer to Lafayette and New Iberia will bring in more visitors staying in our accommodations," she said.

But it comes with a price. Miller says the tourist commission gets about one percent of the occupancy tax, totaling $75,000. The commission uses the money for marketing and operational costs. Without it, Miller says the commission will lose $15,000, but Miller says it's worth it.

"We're optimistic this will be great not only for accommodations, but for the parish," she said.

To make up for the lost funds, Miller says the commission applied for a BP grant. That would give them roughly $500,00.

"It would give us some leeway to make up the difference between our reduction and sales tax," she added.




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