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Hinesville looks at adding to hotel-motel tax
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Hinesville City Council members are expecting to get a draft ordinance on an increased hotel-motel tax.

The current rate is 5% and state legislators gave the city the go-ahead to increase it to 8%. City Manager Kenneth Howard said now that the city can go up to 8% on its hotel- motel tax, one of the first things that needs to be done is ordinance outlining how the city would collect the taxes.

With the increased hotel- motel tax rate, the city can take half of the increase and put it toward construction of an event center. The other half will go toward promoting tourism, Howard said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” he said.

The creation of an event or conference center has been a longstanding goal community goal. Howard pointed out he, Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown and Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Leah Poole have been working on a vision for a potential conference center for nearly a decade.

Where to build such a facility, Howard said, is key.

“One of the criteria is that it be in proximity to hotels,” he said. “The future use of this facility would be for conferences and local events, such as weddings and family reunions.”

The conference center could attract meetings such as those from the Georgia Municipal Association and the Georgia City-County Management Association, Howard added. A final vision for such a center also has not been completed, and Howard said there could be a joint use for such a facility, one for conferences and events and the other for family entertainment. Warner Robins has something in that vein with its Rigby’s Entertainment Complex.

“There is a model to have joint use for those facilities,” Howard said. They serve two different purposes but it has been done in other locations as well.”

The Hinesville Downtown Development Authority has commissioned two studies to see if building such a complex in the city is feasible.

Once council members adopt an ordinance, the new hotel-motel tax rate won’t go into effect immediately. Instead, it will kick in on the first day of the second month following the ordinance’s final adoption by council.

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