Uniform hotel tax mulled

DULUTH - Gwinnett tourism officials are reaching out to local cities for help in hospitality efforts.

Recently, members of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau have worked to convince leaders to create a uniform hotel/motel tax rate across the county, where 2 percent of the 7 percent tax would go to the county bureau.

So far, Snellville and Suwanee leaders have agreed to the higher tax rate, prompting the Convention and Visitors Bureau board this week to approve a 13th seat on the board reserved for a city representative.

"There are definite opportunities within cities," Suwanee Mayor Dave Williams said of the council's recent decision to increase the tax.

He said the city worked closely with the convention and visitors bureau last month on staging the Tour de Georgia in the city's Town Center Park.

"We want to be a good partner with the GCVB. We support the economic development and tourism initiatives that they execute," he said, adding that leaders spoke with city hoteliers before agreeing to the tax increase. "We do believe our hospitality providers in Suwanee will benefit from having invested in the CVB."

The county's hotel/motel tax rate is 7 percent, but hotels in cities pay rates determined by each City Council. The bureau is proposing a 7 percent charge so 2 percent could be dedicated to the bureau.

Bureau board members said they have also spoken to leaders in Norcross and Buford and plan to reach out to elected officials in Lawrenceville.

"We're willing to talk," Buford City Commission Chairman Phillip Beard said, adding that he understood the bureau's need for additional revenues with the construction of a minor league baseball stadium planned for Buford Drive south of the city.

"Our citizens use the facilities the same as the county citizens," he said. "They are going to need funding, and we want to do our part."

GCVB Board Chairman Richard Tucker said he did not know how much revenue the cities could bring in.