By Holly Cook
The Roeland Park city council is considering the creation of a new city-wide 8 percent hotel/motel tax in anticipation of a hotel being built at the old pool site. The city has been in talks with the Sunflower Development Group about constructing a $14 million four- or five-story hotel at the site.
City administrator Keith Moody told the council on Monday that an 8 percent tax would generate at least $73,000 per year. Moody said the average Johnson County hotel tax was 8 percent. Mission and Overland Park currently have a 9 percent hotel tax. Leawood’s tax is 8 percent and Merriam’s is 7 percent.
The city’s Ad Hoc Development Committee plans to use the hotel tax and community improvement district (CID) funds to reimburse about $600,000 in site improvements. Improvements would include creating a connection between the upper and lower portion of the site and an access road out to Roe Boulevard.
“The folks who end up paying for a portion of these improvements are the folks who benefit from the improvements,” Moody said.
After site improvements are finished, hotel tax revenue could be used for any expense that would support Roeland Park tourism, Moody said. This could include anything from building new sidewalks to making improvements to the Roeland Park Community Center or Aquatic Center.
“It’s broad how you could use these funds to encourage tourism,” Moody said.
Visitors staying at Airbnb lodgings in Roeland Park would also be subjected to the tax, as the ordinance is currently written.
“That would be a group that would be impacted immediately,” Moody said. The council could include an exemption for Airbnb if they wanted.
Councilmember Becky Fast noted that Kansas had already passed a state-wide Airbnb tax. Councilmember Teresa Kelly requested the tax discussion be continued during the next governing body meeting.