BRISTER SEEKS LEGISLATION TO SHIFT HOTEL TAX FUNDS
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister is working with the Northshore lawmakers to introduce legislation that will adjust the allocation of funding from the state hotel occupancy tax to enhance local economic development.
A bill was introduced in 1995 that split the state hotel tax between the Tourist Commission and the Economic Development Foundation, with the EDF receiving 15 percent of the funds while the balance was used for tourism. The Tourist Commission has been effective and has grown into over a $2 million annual budget with a significant surplus. The EDF continues to operate on about $400,000 a year and Parish Government has no direct economic development staff or department.
“Based on information from my Transition Team’s analysis, I am asking the Legislature to enact legislation that would more evenly balance the percent of the hotel tax between Parish economic development and the Tourist Commission,” Brister said.
Brister said her proposal is in no way a negative reflection on either the EDF or the Tourist Commission, but is a response to shifting needs in St. Tammany Parish – needs that are quite different from those in 1995.
“Both organizations have done a tremendous job, and tourism is an important component in our community’s economic development profile,” Brister said. “But things have changed since this formula was designed 17 years ago, and I’d like to see greater emphasis on broad-based economic development.
“It’s obvious that St. Tammany is a preferred destination for businesses in a variety of sectors,” she said. “We need to aggressively capitalize on the features that make us so desirable, and expand proactive outreach to recruit new job-creating businesses to our community.”
Brister has met with the majority of local legislators to discuss the proposal, and said the concept was well-received.