Village, Chamber hope to capitalize on tourism money starting in 2017
The Village of Belgium will be retaining its hotel room tax with hopes to boost tourism in the future.
The Village Board this month approved an agreement establishing the Belgium Chamber of Commerce as a tourism entity.
A state law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires municipalities to give 70% of their room tax to a tourism entity. Belgium had the option to send that money to Ozaukee County Tourism Council, but then the money could be spent across the county on promoting other communities, Village President Vickie Boehnlein said.
The board determined it would rather see that money go to the local chamber, which legally must spend those funds on promoting overnight stays in Belgium.
In addition, the tourism entity must have a representative from the village, which could be an employee.
The remaining 30% of the tax would go to the village without any spending restrictions.
The Finance and Personnel Committee in May debated not continuing the room tax, which only impacts the village’s one hotel.
Since then, committee chairman and Trustee Andy Ohlson, who supported ending the tax, resigned from the board with plans to move closer to family outside the village.
On Aug. 8, Village Treasurer Kelly Brinkman told the board opportunities are on the horizon to promote Belgium and that losing a revenue source, however small at this point, “could be detrimental in the future.”
Boehnlein said if the village stops collecting the room tax it would be difficult to bring it back.
The board on a 6-0 vote approved a three-year agreement making the chamber a tourism entity.
The agreement calls for the chamber to present a tourism budget and plan to the Village Board for approval on March 1 each year.