Convention center board to vote on lodging tax increase

CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
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CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority also expected to hire first director.

A new tax board formed to take over ownership of the struggling Dayton Convention Center is expected to formally hire an executive director and raise the county’s lodging tax 3% at its meeting today.

The 11-member Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) will consider a resolution to levy the new tax on hotel and motel stays of fewer than 30 consecutive days in the county.

If the CFA approves the resolution on its agenda, lodging taxes in Montgomery County will climb from 6% to 9%.

ExploreDDN INVESTIGATION: New tax authority mapping convention center’s future

The new excise tax could generate $3 million or more annually to help revive the convention center, which needs expensive repairs and has struggled financially for years even before the coronavirus pandemic.

The CFA was formed last November through an agreement between Montgomery County and the city of Dayton. It has been meeting since May working toward the transfer of ownership of the convention center from the city to the CFA.

The Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority, a A new tax authority formed last year to take ownership of the convention center, has been meeting since May to map a future for the facility. FILE, CHUCK HAMLIN / STAFF
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The Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority, a A new tax authority formed last year to take ownership of the convention center, has been meeting since May to map a future for the facility. FILE, CHUCK HAMLIN / STAFF

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

Board members on Thursday are also expected to formally hire Pam Plageman as the new executive director to manage daily operations and oversee future planning and improvements to the convention center.

Plageman said she’s excited about being involved in a “rebirth” of the facility.

“There’s a lot of work to be done but I’m ready to roll up my sleeves,” she said Wednesday when reached by the Dayton Daily News.

Pam Plageman is set to be named the first executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority pending board approval Thursday. SUBMITTED
Caption
Pam Plageman is set to be named the first executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority pending board approval Thursday. SUBMITTED

Credit: SUBMITTED

Credit: SUBMITTED

Plageman, with 30 years of hospitality industry experience, said she is no stranger to Dayton and its convention center. Formerly a regional vice president with a supplier, Plageman oversaw the company’s food and beverage contract with the Dayton Convention Center for a decade.

“I’m very familiar with the venue and a lot of the folks there,” she said. “I’m very comfortable. It’s almost like coming back home.”

Plageman, who lives in Hebron, Ky., will be leaving a facilities management position at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She has also operated her own consulting business, PLP Hospitality Solutions.

Plageman signed an offer letter with the CFA on Oct. 27 which indicates she will be paid $140,000 annually and be eligible for an annual performance bonus up to 10% of her base pay.

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The Dayton Convention Center, built in 1973 at a cost of $6 million, has 150,000 square feet of floor space and 77,000 square feet of exhibit space. It has operated at a loss since 2012.

Studies by a consultant and a local task force in recent years concluded the convention center’s last hope for revival was for the city to turn it over to a CFA that could put more lodging tax revenue toward building improvements. The reports indicated the facility required $15.2 million to $28 million in upgrades.

Generally in Ohio, jurisdictions levy a 3% hotel/motel tax while the county collects another 3% for a maximum 6%. But language added to a 2019 state budget bill allowed county commissioners to pass a resolution to create the convention facilities authority — but only if done between July and December of 2019 — that allows the collection of an additional 3%.

ExploreConvention center board gets $600K infusion from Montgomery County

The 3% countywide lodging tax collected by Montgomery County averaged about $3.25 million annually over the previous five years before the pandemic, according to county’s Office of Management and Budget.

If residents object to the new tax, they can subject it to a referendum vote.

Last month, Montgomery County provided the CFA $600,000. Dayton has pledged all its lodging tax revenue to the authority through 2060. Lodging tax revenue for Dayton averaged about $805,000 for 2018 and 2019, but receipts are down more than half through September, city records show.