Compromise Reached on Bend Room Tax Initiative

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Representatives of various industry groups including Mt. Bachelor, Visit Bend, Old Mill District, The Riverhouse and arts organizations met over the past week to explore compromise opportunities on a proposed transit room tax increase. Deliberations produced a revised proposal that will go to the city council on July 10.

Following a city council public hearing June 19, the Bend Tourism, Arts and Public Safety Initiative leadership group hosted two meetings with a group opposing the transit room tax increase.  “The purpose of the meetings was to explore compromise opportunities,” said Doug La Placa, executive director of Visit Bend.  “I’m pleased to report our negotiations produced a revised TRT proposal that maintains the core objectives of the original BendTAPS proposal, and satisfies some of the oppositions’ concerns. “

The group that met and developed a cooperative concept included La Placa, Dave Rathbun of Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, Wayne Purcell of The Riverhouse, Heather Kaur of Super 8 Motels, Ray Solley of the Tower Theatre, Noelle Fredland of Old Mill District, Ben Perle of The Oxford Hotel Group, Sue Carrington of Bend Dutch Vacation Rentals, Kelly Cannon-Miller of Des Cutes Historical Society and Pamela Hulse Andrews of Cascade Publications Inc.

While the final proposal did not make everyone happy, the group collectively agreed that a compromise was necessary in order to move forward in a unified approach that will benefit the community as a whole.

The net result of the negotiations is a proposal to increase Bend’s TRT rate from 9 to 10.4 percent, rather than to 11 percent as originally proposed.  Funds raised from the increase will be used to support public safety, economic development through marketing of Bend and a cultural tourism trust for the arts. The marketing component will largely be dedicated to expand Bend’s tourism reach into Seattle and North California to attract visitors and investment from these important, yet currently untapped markets.

At a town hall meeting yesterday the group shared the new proposal with the public where several people expressed their support of the increase and several voiced their concerns.

“As with any compromise, we had to make sacrifices to our original proposal,” explained La Placa.  “However, the BendTAPS leadership group is confident our sacrifices are far outweighed by the benefits of moving forward with a more unified proposal with the lodging industry.”

The public will have an opportunity to address the Bend City Council at their July 10 council meeting.

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