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Sparta Adopting 4% Hotel/Motel Tax For Tourism

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Sparta Adopting 4% Hotel/Motel Tax For Tourism

Sparta Aldermen voted Thursday night to implement a four percent hotel/motel tax to generate revenue for tourism development.

Sparta Mayor Jerry Lowery said while the city does not have a hotel, the city will be paid a fee when visitors rent Airbnbs and other local rental properties. He said Sparta and White County are behind on this revenue source, as most cities across the state already have this in place.

“It’s got to be tourism-related,” Lowery said. “It’s earmarked by the state already, so you can’t just take it and, we can’t go buy, you know, a sewer or lights or anything like that. It’s got to be designated for tourism development.”

Lowery said said he expects the move to be a positive for Sparta residents, but it is too early to guess how much will be generated annually without any data.

“The state is very active in saying, ‘Hey, if your counties need extra money and cities need extra money, then put that in place because everybody is paying it everywhere else,’” Lowery said. “I thought, you know what, it does not affect our residents, it’s just people traveling and things like that.”

He said the tax is capped at four percent by the state, so if the state raises it, Sparta’s percentage will rise with it without needing to take any action. However, Lowery said he does not expect the state to raise the cap any time soon.

“Whenever you rent a room, you know, you get an extra fee,” Lowery said. “This will be included in that.”

Until 2021, municipalities could put hotel/motel tax money in their general fund before the state earmarked it.

In other business, Aldermen passed a motion to begin accepting bids for the installation of a generator for the water department. The generator was purchased at a savings of some $650,000, but the installation of the massive machine will require an outside contractor.  At February’s meeting, Lowery said the generator would require a crane to be transported from Brentwood.


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