Voters to decide on possible hotel occupancy tax hike

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Staying overnight in Baton Rouge could soon become more expensive. A measure on the December 10 ballot would raise the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent. The additional revenue would go to the Raising Cane's River Center and Visit Baton Rouge, an organization that promotes the city to tourists.

"This money, which would be paid almost exclusively by visitors, would be utilized to bring more visitors in town, more events in town that drive economic development," says Paul Arrigo, president of Visit Baton Rouge.

Currently, the hotel bill for guests in Baton Rouge includes 14 percent in taxes, 5 percent in state taxes, 5 percent in city taxes, and the 4 percent occupancy tax. If the measure passes, the occupancy tax would go up to 6 percent, bringing the total to 16 percent.

Baton Rouge Lodging Association president, Ben Blackwell, supports the measure. "Lafayette's at 16 percent, New Orleans is at 17 percent. And you know, they have these taxes that benefit them in attracting businesses," says Blackwell.

While the measure would mean more money to market Baton Rouge, it also means that people would be paying more to stay in the city. Both Blackwell and Arrigo believe the tax increase won't discourage travelers.

"Honestly I don't find that it would discourage," Blackwell said. "Many people really don't look at the tax in general when they're considering somewhere to stay."

"I'll look at Trip Advisor almost weekly and I never ever see anyone mentioning a tax in any city being outrageous," Arrigo said.

Voters will make their decision on Saturday, December 10. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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