Johnson Co. Council holds off on hotel tax vote


The Johnson County Council did not take a vote Monday night on a controversial five-percent hotel tax proposal.

Supporters say the money could be used to develop tourism in the county, but opponents say it could hurt businesses up front, with only a promise of helping them later.

Johnson County has a number of hotels, but most of them cater to business travelers, like the Candlewood Suites in Greenwood.

"About 95 percent of our business is from the corporate transient market," said Philip Claus with Candlewood Suites.

That's because Johnson County is long on businesses and short on tourist attractions. A lot of those companies have long-term contracts with local hotels.

"If you're renting 25-50 nights at $100 a night, that's $5,000 and you're looking at an extra five percent, that's a lot of money," Claus said.

Money that local hotels probably can't collect for the length of the contract. Still, supporters of the measure say advertising the local tourist trade could significantly help the overall economy.

"I can't tell you how many times I go out to businesses and they tell me they don't know what we have to offer in Greenwood and Johnson County," said Greenwood Mayor Mark Meyers.

But at least one traveler is not buying it. Tim Fein's company pays for hundreds of local hotel rooms a year. Not his money, but he thinks taxes are high enough already.

"There's taxes for everything. All they do is raise taxes for us and they don't never cut nothing for them," Fein said.

In the nine-county metropolitan area, Johnson County is the only one that does not have a hotel tax to pay for a convention and visitors bureau. The issue is likely to come up again at the next county council meeting.