MCED proposes Monona hotel/motel tax

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Monona Chamber and Economic Development, Inc. (MCED) is asking the city of Monona to consider implementing a hotel/motel tax for a growing list of lodging establishments.

MCED Executive Director Rogeta Halvorson proposed the idea at the April 20 regular council meeting. She was joined virtually by Bridget Schlein, who owns the Monona Guesthouse with husband Tim, and Rachel Thurn, owner of the new Driftless Manor Getaway. Both establishments are available on the online booking sites Airbnb and VRBO.

Halvorson said collecting a 7 percent hotel/motel tax, which is comparable to other communities in Clayton County, “could bring in more revenue.” Other local cities use the funds for economic development, recreational and cultural offerings, chamber of commerce operations and more.

Both Thurn and Schlein support the idea and said websites like Airbnb and VRBO make the process easy. The companies collect the room tax fees on behalf of the hosts, then the state distributes the funds to municipalities.

“I like how they take away the work from us, so we don’t have to worry,” Thurn shared.

The customer pays the hotel/motel tax on top of what the host normally receives, so owners aren’t losing revenue.

Schlein said she doesn’t foresee a hotel/motel tax discouraging people from staying at Monona’s lodging establishments.

“I think most places have some type of tax, so people expect it,” she explained. “I don’t think it will hurt us.”

“If they want a clean room and a good experience, people are willing to pay for it,” Halvorson added.

City Administrator Barb Collins said the city would have to develop and pass an ordinance in order to collect hotel/motel tax. The council agreed to check out other cities’ ordinances, then discuss the topic again at a future meeting.

Commercial park lot sale moving forward

The council approved a resolution tentatively approving the sale of a Monona commercial park lot to Bow Benders Enterprises for the relocation of TJ’s Pizza. TJ’s plans to relocate from its current Falcon Avenue site to the lot near Family Dentistry Associates due to the expansion of Kwik Star. The council set a public hearing date regarding the sale for its May 18 meeting.

Alliant completing fiber optic project

The council approved a work permit for an Alliant Energy fiber optic construction project. Collins said fiber will stretch from the south end of Monona to the north, along Main Street, ending at the Franklin Street substation. No major traffic disruptions are expected.

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