Board imposes new tax on hotel stays to upgrade Dayton Convention Center

A board that will own and operate the Dayton Convention Center has approved imposing a new 3% tax on hotel and motel stays in Montgomery County to help upgrade the aging downtown event center.

The new countywide lodgings tax will help pay for millions of dollars in renovations to modernize the convention center, which is nearly five decades old and has fallen into disrepair and has significant deferred maintenance needs, officials say.

Supporters say the Convention Center is vital to the regional tourism industry and facility improvements will make it more of a destination and increase its competitiveness to help attract more events and visitors.

“We just did something that was momentous,” said Walter Reynolds, chairman of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority.

Research shows that investing in the facility will have a positive economic impact and will help effectively sell the Dayton region, said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

“Attracting regional business is a community-wide effort and the opportunity here includes hotels, attractions and dining/retail that stretches far beyond the downtown area,” he said. “It’s a great step forward.”

ExploreDayton to give up ownership of convention center

On Thursday, the convention facilities authority board of directors unanimously voted to approve the new hotel lodging excise tax.

A month ago, the board decided to table a vote on the proposed additional tax levy, saying they wanted more time to review pertinent information and the proposed code of regulations.

The 3% tax will apply to the 71 hotels and motels located in Montgomery County. Combined, they offer nearly 6,700 rooms, officials say.

The new tax applies to any establishment that rents out five or more rooms in the county, officials say.

Montgomery County already has a 3% lodgings tax that funds the Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau and other entertainment-related activities. The county’s lodgings tax generated about $3.6 million in 2019.

Dayton, which currently owns the convention center, has a 3% tax, the proceeds of which are put toward the facility. But the city’s revenue consistently fell short of covering operating and facility costs, and the city for years subsidized the center using general fund money.

The city expects to transfer ownership of the facility to the new authority early next year.

The resolution the board approved levies the excise tax and adopts a code of regulations related to how the levy will be administered by the convention facilities authority, said Shannon Martin, the partner in charge of Bricker & Eckler’s Dayton office who is advising the authority.

The authority’s processes will mirror what the county already does to collect its own lodgings taxes, she said. Tax collection is expected to begin March 1, 2021. The authority is still figuring out some details of the collection process.

The three-story convention center was built in 1972, and it also has a front and rear addition that were constructed in 1986, featuring meeting and support spaces.

The center offers a large exhibit hall, multiple ballrooms, meeting rooms, a theater, offices, skywalk and other amenities.

A few years ago, a convention center task force recommended increasing the lodgings tax from 6% to 9% pay capital improvements and facility operations to make it more marketable.

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