Local
2:42 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Coalition wants hotel/motel tax revenue for MARTA

As talks of a new Atlanta Falcons stadium continue, some argue money towards that stadium would be better spent elsewhere.

Atlanta’s share of hotel/motel tax revenue could help pay for the new stadium. That’s not a good idea according to Georgia Sierra Club head Colleen Kiernan.

"It would make more sense to spend that public money making it easier for visitors and residents alike to get around more easily in an in-town area," said Kiernan.

“We think that spending $300 million of public money building a new stadium to demolish a big investment right next door will not necessarily engender more trust,” said Kiernan.

Kiernan says trust, or a lack of it, is why most voters rejected the regional transportation tax plan this summer. To gain that trust, she argues the city should spend its hotel/motel tax revenue on MARTA.

“It would make more sense to spend that public money making it easier for visitors and residents alike to get around more easily in an in-town area,” said Kiernan.

There are certain rules to hotel/motel tax revenue.

“Hotel tax funds are designed to help be a partner in a marketing program to lure visitors to a destination,” said Atlanta Hotel Council executive director Ron Fennell.

Fennell says the tax is carved in fourths. A slice for the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city of Atlanta. Atlanta’s money helps fund its budget. But, Fennell says the city can make its own decision.

“Local governments have full discretion about monies that are on their balance sheets from the hotel/motel tax,” said Fennell.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office declined to WABE’s interview request. However, the Mayor has been involved in discussions with the state and the Atlanta Falcons about a new stadium.