letter to the editor

Delay Hotel-Motel Tax implementation due to COVID-19

Honorable Mayor and elected officials and townspeople of Farragut:

This is an open “APPEAL TO REASON.”

Recently and after much dialog and discussion the Town of Farragut passed a Hotel Occupancy Tax to be imposed on guests in hotels in the Farragut area.  This NEW tax is to begin with occupancy after June 1, 2020.  At the time of discussion and the vote the businesses of all in the area was robust, although in Farragut the hotel occupancy was not at high levels. 

This tax was presented to be a “no impact on the citizens and only a pass-along tax” on those visiting Farragut hotels.   The revenues from such tax were to be utilized to promote Farragut tourism, etc.  Now, the “Appeal to Reason.” 

 Since the vote on the NEW tax, our country has been literally shut down to most traffic, thus the occupancy in our hotels has plummeted to almost nothing in only a matter of weeks.  The President has mandated and governors throughout our country have backed up social distancing and the closure of all but essential businesses. 

Within weeks, local hotels in Knoxville and nationally are laying off hourly workers and in some cases shutting down their hotels.  We, in the hotel business like many others, are facing financial failure until the virus situation is under control enough that restrictions on travel and business are relaxed.  Even when restrictions are relaxed, it will take months for travel business to recover.  We in the hotel business are hanging on to survive.  We are daily facing very difficult issues with employment and benefits for our hard-working employees.

 I sincerely request that the Town meet and immediately vote to suspend any new taxes imposed on our local hotels until such time as the national and local situations shows a return to some sort of normal business conditions. 

An addendum to the above. 

In addition to low occupancy rates, our booked business has been totally cancelled and will not come back until such time as the population feels secure and returns to normal conditions.  Any advance deposits on these bookings have had to be returned.

 Please respond by using good sense regarding this issue and do not impose these taxes at this time on the folks that invest and work and live in the Farragut area.  This pandemic has been described as an unprecedented event. 

Our request is only submitted in the wake of this unprecedented event.  

Respectfully submitted,

William B. Stokely III