Adviser: Hamilton candidate’s tourist tax suggestion for streets repairs not legal

A City Council candidate’s proposal to charge a tourism tax to raise money to fix streets, better-finance safety forces and create youth activities can’t happen, the financial adviser to Hamilton said. It wouldn’t be legal, he explained.

Council challenger Casey Hume, one of eight candidates seeking three seats in November, said he believes charging a half-cent or 1 percent sales tax on local hotels and at the future Spooky Nook complex would be a better way to fix streets than the proposed 10-year levy that will go before voters March 17.

He made a guess the taxes might raise half a million or more, of which half could go to streets, 30-40 percent to safety forces and 10-20 percent to youth activities.

But Andy Brossart, the city’s financial adviser on the Spooky Nook project, told this media outlet spending for those purposes wouldn’t be legal.

Tourist taxes are in fact planned — 3 percent on hotel stays and 2 percent on eligible sales at Spooky Nook — Brossart said. But: “We are limited on what those moneys can be used for under state law. We cannot pay for those items if they are not Community Authority Improvements.”

The hotel- and sales taxes that are planned will be used for parking improvements Spooky Nook will need, Brossart said.

Jack Whalen, who is leading the citizen-led effort for a 3.9-mill tax levy that would last 10 years, noted Hume was unable to predict how much the proposed sales tax would bring in.

But Whalen said advocates of the tax levy know it will generate $3.1 million per year. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $136.50 per year — lower than the amount reported on Wednesday, which was for a higher levy amount that had been considered.

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