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New hotel tax money projected at nearly $21 million

Monday, September 9, 2019 by Jo Clifton

At last week’s meeting on the 2020 budget, Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo told Council that staff was projecting an additional $20,962,980 next year as a result of the 2 percent increase in the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax. Council approved that increase at its Aug. 8 meeting in anticipation of demolishing and rebuilding the current convention center. Van Eenoo explained that more than $14.6 million of the new funds would be transferred to the Convention Center Capital Fund, while the rest of the money would be split between the Historic Preservation Fund and the Cultural Arts Fund. That means each of those funds will receive $3,144,447 in addition to their previous funding. In staff’s original proposal, they projected spending $12.8 million in support of cultural arts and $11.9 million in support of historic preservation. Although there was a lot of discussion about the hotel tax before Council approved it, there was no comment from the dais last week. The local hotel tax is now at 17 percent, the maximum allowed under state law. Austinites will get a chance to vote on a referendum in November to decide whether future expansions of the convention center should require voter approval. Council is scheduled to take up budget approval on Tuesday.

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