Visitors to Stark County will be paying more for hotel rooms starting next month after commissioners voted to double the county's hotel bed tax.
Currently, the 3 percent bed tax on hotel rooms brings in about $1.5 million to the Stark County Convention and Visitors' Bureau. The increase will give another 2 percent to the bureau, plus 1 percent to the non-profit Arts In Stark. County Commissioner Janet Creighton says the funds are needed to market the area.
“It’s important that the Visitor’s Bureau have the tools to be able to go to trade shows – to contact coach tours – to really fan across the United States, telling the story of Stark County and the different opportunities that we have here for visitation.”
Creighton says she does not think the increase will deter visitors.
“If we want to go a tourist destination, we usually ask what the room rate is. We don’t usually say, ‘What are the taxes?’ We all know that there are going to be taxes added. So some said to me, ‘Oh, this might really deter people coming to your county.’ Not really – because I think people are just looking for a reasonable room rate, knowing that they are going to have to pay a bed tax and sales tax.”
Creighton adds that both agreements are for 10 years -- instead of the standard three -- to allow for longer-term planning. A state budget provision from Stark County Representative Kirk Schuring allowed the county to increase the tax starting this month.
A portion of the increase may go toward funding construction of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village, but Creighton says that has not yet been determined and there is no timetable on that decision.
She adds that Stark still has one of the lowest tax rates on hotel rooms among large counties in Ohio: lower than Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties, and just a quarter-percent ahead of Summit County after the increase.