Occupancy tax delayed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2006

AHOSKIE – A slight slip-up has delayed the Town of Ahoskie imposing its occupancy tax.

At its Aug. 8 meeting, Town Council members were informed that the state legislature had approved a tax that allows hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast operations within the town limits to charge a three percent occupancy tax on room rentals.

In his initial discussions with the Institute of Government, Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond was informed that because the state legislature did not refer to a public hearing, Ahoskie was not required to hold one concerning the issue.

“However, after further investigation, I was informed of a new state law that requires a public hearing prior to the adoption of an ordinance establishing an occupancy tax,” Hammond said during Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Upon learning that information, the town immediately scheduled a public hearing on the matter. That public input session, duly advertised on Aug. 22, was held Tuesday morning.

No one spoke in favor or against the tax, after which time Council members approved the establishment of the occupancy tax. That new tax takes affect Nov. 1.

In a related matter, Council members approved the structure of the Ahoskie Tourism Development Authority (TDA). It is the duty of the Ahoskie Town Council to appoint members to that board. One third of that membership must be individuals affiliated with businesses collecting the tax while at least one-half are required to be individuals currently active in the promotion of travel and tourism in town.

Currently, Dee Fritz of Jernigan House Bed & Breakfast, Braxton Smith of the Tomahawk Motel, Hertford County Economic Development Director Bill Early and Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn have submitted applications for inclusion on the TDA. It was suggested to have Phyllis Frymier, Executive Director of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, submit an application.

However, Council members decided not to take any action on the TDA applications until their next meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 10.