By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
Fulton officials have released the initial collection results from the city’s new hotel tax. The numbers are good, although they seem to fall short of initial estimates.
In a two-month span, the city of Fulton has collected more than $6,290 in funds from its new tourism tax. When averaged, this amounts to approximately $3,146 in tax collection per month. Spread across a year, that would be around $37,738 — a good distance short of the $50,000 to $70,000 city officials estimated they’d collect in a year.
Of course, hotel occupancy ebbs and flows throughout the year, so it’s difficult to know what to expect with such a small sampling. According to Fulton Mayor Paul Walker, the initial results show promise.
“So far, I’m very pleased with the numbers,” the mayor said of the results. The money, which is funneled into its own account, will be used to help fund a variety of projects across the city.
Walker said among the early projects likely to benefit from the new funds will be renovations to the city’s public ballfields. Future projects may include improvements to the natural gas lines in the city, especially to the downtown area and the port.
The tax was voted into effect during a special election in June of last year. Although turnout was expectedly low — only 13 percent of the city’s approximately 1,900 registered voters cast their ballots — the new tax garnered 86 percent approval.
The tax needed 60 percent approval to pass.
Local hotel managers and owners say the new three-percent tax, which is added atop regular room rates, has had seemingly little to no effect on business.
“Business has been very good,” said Misty West, General Manager of Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Fulton’s largest hotel. Although she couldn’t comment on the specifics of whether or not the hotel tax has affected business at the hotel, she said occupancy has remained consistently strong both prior to and after the tax was implemented.
Charles Graham, co-owner and manager of American’s Inn, said the new tax hasn’t impacted his business in the slightest.
“It hasn’t affected the business at all, really,” he said. “It’s kind of a non-issue. Most people don’t even notice.”
Graham said the inn maintains around 90 percent occupancy at most times and the tax, which adds around $3 to the cost of lodging there, hasn’t hindered that.
“Business has been good,” he said.