The convention bureau plans to go forward with the project this year, regardless of the outcome on the additional tax, according to Phil Smith, president and CEO of the visitors bureau. The additional tax would be used to pay off debt service on the project.
“It’s the right time,” said Smith. “I’d like to break ground in the fall.”
Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices has agreed to provide 88 acres for the complex as part of the 1,400 acre Union Village new urbanist community planned across from Otterbein's main campus outside Lebanon.
While not taking a formal position, the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association said it supported the additional tax.
“The vast majority of our members in the county were for it,” said Joe Savarise, executive director of the association. “These types of permissive lodging tax increases need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”
In this case, Savarise said the local operators were swayed by projections for 82,000 additional room nights paid for by people in the area for events at the complex.
Both Warren County representatives backed it.
“I supported allowing Warren County the freedom to make their own decision on this,” said Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason.
“I think it would be a big economic boost for Warren County,” said Rep. Ron Maag, R-Salem Twp. “Right now, let’s see what the senate does.”