Marathon wants bed-tax funds for affordable homes

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council collects the bed tax

Mar.March 13, 2016 01:30 PM

Members of the Marathon City Council want to use tax money collected by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC) to encourage affordable housing development.

Marathon Mayor Mark Senmartin told the Keynoter newspaper he wants the TDC bed tax to support affordable housing development and not just advertising to attract tourists. Most of the TDC bed tax is earmarked for marketing only.

“The TDC was formed to help attract visitors to the area and I would say mission accomplished,” Senmartin told the newspaper. “I am not here to blame them. Our businesses, including mine, have benefited from them. I’m asking them to take some responsibility and burden for the situation.”

Marathon Vice Mayor Bill Kelly told the Keynoter a shortage of affordable housing could hurt tourism-based businesses.

“We’re going to have all these tourists but no one to make the beds, serve the meals or clean the place because they can’t live here,” he told the newspaper. “Marathon needs some workforce housing and this would be a good revenue source for it.”

By state law, four cents of the TDC bed tax of 5 cents per dollar spent must be used for marketing only.

The so-called fifth penny generated about $8 million last year, including $4 million that went to the Monroe County Land Authority, which conceivably could serve as a vehicle to build more affordable housing. [The Keynoter] — Mike Seemuth

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