Great Bend City Council members approved a tax increase Monday night that will help pay for the future operation of the local convention center.
The council approved an increase in the local transient guest tax from 5 percent to 6 percent with the increase ear-marked to be used to fund the operation of the convention center, which is still in the process of being turned over to the city.
In June, the council approved accepting a $500,000 donation that would allow the city to purchase the facility.
At the time the city ownership of the center was discussed, City Administrator Howard Partington noted that a 1 percent increase in the guest tax would raise about $47,000 a year.
As the work to separate the convention center from the adjacent hotel has continued, challenges have continued to be encountered, City Attorney Bob Suelter reported.
Most recently was the challenge of trying to separate the electric service from the two facilities so the convention center can be metered separately.
Such challenges continue to be faced, but they point to the need for the city to have an income source to help fund the changes, which is what the guest tax increase would do.
The work has to continue to move forward, Suelter added, because the facility needs to continue in use. It is currently booked into 2014.
At the time the city first discussed taking over the convention center, it was noted that there shouldn’t be a problem with the increase in guest tax. At that time, Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cris Collier, who works with conventions on a regular basis, explained that in Kansas, 5 percent is the average guest tax. The city could still market at 6 percent, but she said going any higher would start to negatively impact marketing.