Guests at Taylorsville City’s only motel could face a new tax
Feb 09, 2017 03:09PM ● Published by Bryan Scott
Taylorsville City is working to see a reduction in motel guest crime at Crossland Economy Studios. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com
If you happened to be one of those who traveled to the Utah or BYU football bowl games in December—and stayed at a motel or hotel—“Consumer Reports” shows, you paid a hefty transient tax—12.5 percent in San Diego or 15.5 percent in San Francisco.
Houston (17 percent) and Chicago (16.4) charge their vacationers and business visitors even more. But those, of course, are high-profile tourist cities where a big chunk of tax revenue is generated by those who won’t be staying.
That’s not the case in Taylorsville; you won’t find a bowl game there. But you also won’t pay a transient tax, at the city’s one-and-only motel. At least not yet.
At a recent city council meeting, Taylorsville City Attorney Tracy Cowdell reported a modest transient tax might soon be needed.
“We’ve observed a recent police call increase, and it may become necessary to impose a 1 percent transient tax to help cover those expenses,” Cowdell told the council at its Dec. 14 meeting.
Crossland Economy Studios—at 5683 South Redwood Road, just east of the Utah Department of Workforce Services office— is Taylorsville City’s only motel. Several websites list rooms there for $70. The motel is one of more than a thousand owned by a group outside Utah.
The motel is nearly impossible to see from Redwood Road, and most residents may not even know it’s there.
But the Unified Police Department Taylorsville Precinct certainly does.
“My department isn’t advocating a new tax,” Precinct Chief Tracy Wyant said. “But it’s true, we have been seeing more police calls—for domestic violence, narcotics and other problems—to the motel.”
City Attorney Cowdell told the council a nominal 1 percent tax would generate about $12,000 to $13,000 each year.
“If a new tax were created, the motel would collect it from people checking in, the State Tax Commission would collect it, and then pay it back to the city,” Cowdell said. “Our local taxpayers would not be impacted.”
But Wyant says there has been improvement in recent weeks. “Representatives of the motel have flown in to talk with us about the problem,” he said. “We have asked them to make a few changes, and they are working to do that now.”
Police and the city attorney have asked Crossland Economy Studios to:
Tow abandoned cars
Increase security (with cameras and personnel)
Prohibit long-term residency
Report loitering or other suspicious activity
“I feel good about the discussions we’ve had so far,” Chief Wyant added. “We just want to make sure city taxpayers aren’t forced to pay a disproportionate amount of tax to cover emergency response there.”
Cowdell also said the proposed tax has nothing to do with those Taylorsville residents who are attempting, illegally, to rent rooms through “airbnb.com” and other popular websites.
“If the city council did establish a new transient tax, it would not apply to private homeowners renting rooms, because that is already against city code, without proper licensing,” he said.
Taylorsville City Council members asked Cowdell and Wyant to each continue monitoring progress being made at Crossland Economy Studios. But so far, they are not inclined to pursue a change to the municipal code, establishing the new transient tax.
“My appearance before the council was simply a first reading,” Cowdell said. “If the motel owners remain responsive to what the city and our police department are trying to accomplish, the tax may not be necessary at all.”