letter to the editor

I am saddened, shocked and appalled to learn that this Board of Mayor and Aldermen, either of their own initiative or by request of staff, or by some combination of the two, intends to resurrect again the specter of the Hotel-Motel Tax so shortly after our Hoteliers were forced to defend themselves against it for the THIRD time since 2018!

As a concerned citizen I must ask you as my representative sworn to uphold the rights of our citizens, to explain to me by what pretext this Board would presume to arrogate to itself the authority to upend the established and highly successful business model of this Town, arbitrarily and discriminatorily burden and hamstring an important segment of our business community, which has heavily invested in our Town, destroy one of the Town’s most significant competitive strategic business advantages, soil the legacy of your predecessors and create a new bureaucracy to administer the poison?

In order to justify this you must first demonstrate a need. What is the need when we are operating with a surplus and revenues are steadily increasing?

Our Town administrator (David Smoak) told me that the purpose of this tax is to fund the tourism initiative that he believes the Town supports. In light of facts, this laughably thin pretext quickly exposes itself as nothing more than the frivolous exercise of naked government authority that it truly is. [edited]

If the purpose of supporting tourism is to increase revenues for the Town, and the supposition is that investment in tourism will produce significant multiples of revenues-over-investment, then in order to support this tax you must demonstrate the need to provide outside funds to support a profitable venture.

And if it will not self-support, then why are we wasting time and money on it? Citizens of goodwill and clear conscience know that there are always those in our Town government salivating over the ability to tax our citizens. They easily see this for what it truly is: the camel’s nose under the tent.

Farragut is not and will not be a tourist destination in the sense some on the Board seem to be promoting. But we do have great potential as “The Safest, Cleanest, Most Charming Exit on the Interstate” to be a hospitality, travel and shopping destination, especially since our hotels and motels enjoy a significant strategic and competitive advantage due to their favorable tax situation as compared to their major competitors at the Lovell Road and Lenoir City exits.

In closing, anyone on the Board must be able to provide a lucid response to the above questions. In my 16 years of active involvement in Town government, I have never heard a sound argument for the imposition of this tax. In fact, the only arguments for it I have ever heard are: 1) we want it, 2) we think we can get away with it, and 3) everyone else is doing it.

If you cannot or will not demonstrate a valid need for this tax, then you are oath and duty-bound to oppose it. These businesses affected by this tax are your constituents and they deserve an advocate. Know of a surety that many of your constituents will devote their considerable energies and talents to making sure that not only does this destructive and unwarranted travesty not succeed, but also that all our citizens understand the role played by its proponents so as to ensure that they not again find themselves in a position to abuse the authority entrusted to them by our Town.

We will not stand idly by and watch members of our community discriminated against, our Town’s character willfully squandered and our liberties eroded.

Bob Markli

Former alderman

Town of Farragut