GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – With the Hotel/Motel tax change well underway, May saw cabin owners requesting adjustments to the change with the public hearing and first reader in the BOC meetings.
Questions arose among speakers asking the board to not go fully to eight percent right away, but instead staging a smaller increase and potentially returning to the increase later if still needed. Another request saw different speakers telling the board about added stress from having to go back to people who have or will make reservations before the change takes place. The date of implementation became the main focus of discussions from the county’s work session to public hearing to the regular meeting in Citizen’s Wishing to Speak.
Originally, the board looked to have the change begin a soft implementation this week that would see rentals informing those making reservations for a stay after August 1 about the tax increase and the charge would be added to their stay as it occurs after the August 1 implementation date. This idea came out of the county’s work session on May 11, 2022. However, during the Public Hearing and Regular Session on May 12, 2022, rental owners returned to oppose the implementation and the county asking them to “collect a tax that isn’t implemented yet.”
Debates continued over the official implementation of the tax and a specific date rather than implementation in stages or the possibility of retroactive implementation. Speakers also debated the difficulty of including Airbnb and VRBO into the collection so quickly.
Post 1 Commissioner Hubert Parker noted that the tax has been discussed and information has been going out since December and implementation is not coming as a surprise to the county.
Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris said in the public hearing, “I would be sympathetic to the idea that this hasn’t been approved yet and it’s not a tax yet and perhaps we need to do that first.” Paris called for some give on both sides so that everyone could feel it was implemented properly and be able to walk away “not mad.”
Parker also said he would be agreeable to a set date. With the presumption of a final reader in the June meeting, the BOC looked at implementation on July 1, 2022.
Instead of stage implementation looking at reservation made date and the date of the stay, speakers looked for a single hard date to say any reservations made before this date follow the past rule and those made after that date follow the eight percent tax. The noted concerns of trying to follow two different rules at once depending on when the stay date is.
The official motion to approve the first reader came in the regular meeting supporting the implementation of a single date, July 1, 2022, to impose the tax increase on all reservations made on July 1, 2022, and after, regardless of the actual date of the stay.