Byron Council OKs hotel-motel tax collection authorization

Telegraph correspondentOctober 9, 2012 

BYRON--The Georgia Municipal Association will begin collecting hotel and motel taxes on behalf of Byron.

During its monthly meeting Monday, city council authorized Mayor Larry Collins to sign a contract with the GMA to collect the taxes at a cost of $700 per hotel-motel per year to the city.

GMA already provides some hotel-motel tax services for the city, including an audit of hotel-motel tax funds every three years and other reporting and administrative tasks.

GMA is now offering collection services which the new contract indicates will “enhance revenue generation, improve the compliance ethic and provide for better tax protection and management” and relieve the city of “mundane and laborious tasks.”

Under Georgia law, cities get a 5 percent excise tax for occupancy of guest rooms in hotels and motels within their city limits. Funds generated are used for specific purposes related to promoting the city and tourism.

GMA representative Pam Helton spoke to council and told members by allowing the GMA to collect the funds collections data will be more effectively handled and delinquent accounts can be dealt with immediately rather than showing up every three years.

Council members have previously discussed difficulties in collecting the tax and Councilman Mike Chumbley affirmed Monday that the city has a problem with late hotel-motel tax payments from some establishments.

Chumbley, who heads the council’s budget and finance committee, said his committee recommended entering the contract. He said nine Georgia communities have joined GMA’s collection program and that three of them he had been able to speak with gave glowing reports of their involvement.

In other business, council heard first readings of two ordinances that will likely be approved at next month’s meeting scheduled for Nov. 12. One sets a non-prorated, non-refundable administrative fee of $25 for all business and occupation tax for initial, start-up, renewal and reopening accounts.

The second involves Byron’s provision of emergency management within the city.

Both ordinances may be viewed at city hall prior to the November vote.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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