Gonzales Council discusses hotel tax, city plans

Halen Doughty

At an early morning meeting of the Gonzales City Council, members scheduled a number of public hearings on everything from the city's community development plan to potential hotel taxes.

A bill was passed by the Louisiana State Legislature and signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards that allows local municipalities to levy and collect hotel occupancy taxes. The revenue raised would be used to construct and maintain a conference or event center within the city. The city council will hold a public hearing on July 9 at 5:30 p.m. to collect input from the public on the proposal.

If passed, hotel guests would pay a 2 percent tax on the rate of their room. The tax could generate more than $500,000 per year for the city. Once the council adopts a resolution, the proposal would be put on the ballot during the December election, and voters would have the final say in the matter.

City Clerk Scot Byrd noted that even with this new tax, Gonzales would still have a lower hotel tax rate than comparable municipalities. Currently, hotel occupants in Gonzales pay around 11 percent in taxes, but none of that revenue goes to the city. With a 2 percent increase in that rate, hotel guests in Gonzales would see just over 13 percent in taxes on their bill. Byrd estimated that Slidell guests pay around 17 percent, and visitors in both Covington and Denham Springs pay about 16 percent.

Another public meeting will be held on June 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Gonzales Civic Center. The town hall is hosted by the steering committee for Louisiana Development Ready Communities. The goal of the meeting is to gather input from the public on ways to improve the city over the next several years. The committee has worked in conjunction with Louisiana Economic Development to make the city more attractive to new businesses and residents.