Tax collection change rescinded

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

JASPER — Innkeeper taxes will continue to be collected locally.

After hearing from representatives of the Dubois County Visitors Bureau on Tuesday, the council rescinded their decision to have the state collect the money. So the collections will continue to be done by the Dubois County Treasurer’s Office.

The council decided in November to make the change. County Treasurer Kitty Merkley told the council that doing so would make the system easier for innkeepers because they are already registered with the state. With the county, they have to fill out additional paperwork to pay the tax.

But Whitney Hall Lubbers, executive director of Visit Dubois County, the county’s tourism division, and former director Kevin Manley told the council Tuesday that the change could cause delays in following up with those who have not paid the tax. Plus, there is no process in place at the state level to make sure the payments are correct.

“Some may not pay as much if they think they can get away with it,” Lubbers said.

County tourism uses revenue from the tax for tourism activities that encourage people to visit the county.

Also, if there needs to be followup with an innkeeper, the state would not be as vested in doing that as much as the local collectors, Manley added. In the current process, which he said has been in place for more than 30 years, a tourism representative goes to the delinquent innkeeper to talk to them about making the payment, which Manley and Lubbers said is usually successful.

“The state wouldn’t care as much as Dubois County would,” Manley said.

Council members asked if that could still be done with the new system. Lubbers said yes, but getting the information from the state about who has not paid would take longer than getting it from the county.

Councilman Doug Uebelhor said that had he known this information, he would not have approved the change.

“We dropped the ball, on not covering all the bases,” he said.

Council members and Merkley apologized for not giving the representatives an opportunity to comment about the idea before passing the measure.

In a unanimous vote, the council rescinded the change. Merkley said she will let the innkeepers know via letter. Councilman Mike Kluesner requested that in the letter she ask them for suggestions for streamlining the process.




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