Pendleton may extend tourism promotion tax

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PENDLETON (AP) — Hotel owners in Pendleton are split on whether an assessment on rooms and recreation vehicle spaces to promote tourism should be extended.

The Tourism Promotion Assessment Charge collects $1.50 for every guest in a hotel bed and 50 cents per motor home.

Pendleton City Finance Director Linda Carter said the assessment generated more than $200,541 in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

The City Council created the tax in 2007, and in September, extended it to 2014. Assessment revenue is split between capital improvements for the Pendleton Convention Center and event grants administered by Travel Pendleton.

One beneficiary was “Coyote Joe” Sartin of Milton-Freewater. He told the East Oregonian that his Foot of the Blues Cowboy Gathering on Memorial Day weekend might have gone under without assistance from Travel Pendleton.

The poetry event began in 2011 with help from a $5,000 grant. Another $5,000 grant this year helped boost ticket sales from 50 to 150 for Friday and Saturday performances at the Pendleton Convention Center, he said.

Travel Pendleton’s seven-person committee of hotel owners and general managers will lobby the City Council on June 19 to extend the tax for another three years or approve automatic renewals.

Travel Pendleton and convention center goals for the assessment are linked, said Jim Gorham, chief executive operator of the Roadway Inn. Getting more people to stay in hotels overnight raises money that can be used to maintain the convention center, he said, and a well-maintained convention center attracts more people to hotels.

“It’s just kind of a cyclical thing where it really just hinges on having a nice facility,” Gorham said.

Managers of other hotels disagree.

Barbara Harris, general manager of the Super 8, opposed extension of the assessment in September. Guests, she said, tell her that they should not have to pay taxes where they don’t live.

Smaller hotels, Harris said, lack the space or amenities for large events that the assessment tries to attract.

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