BAKER — Pending approval by the state bond commission, voters in Baker will decide Nov. 21 whether to impose a 5 percent tax on hotel and campground stays in the city.
The City Council voted 3-0 to approve a resolution to seek approval from the state bond commission to put the hotel occupancy tax on the ballot. Council members Pete Heine, Joyce Burges and Robert Young voted in favor of the tax. John Givens and Charles Vincent were absent.
If approved by voters, the tax would be levied beginning July 1.
“This will go toward the city of Baker for the good of our children,” Burges said.
Baker residents will not pay the tax unless they stay at a hotel in the city, Heine said.
Revenue from the tax should be around $20,000 per year, Mayor Harold Rideau said, though the exact amount will depend on hotel occupancy.
Two hotels are in Baker: Western Inn on Main Street and Executive Inn and Suites on La. 19. There are also at least two recreational vehicle and camping parks in the city.
Any funds generated by the tax are to be earmarked for city park improvements.
Baker has one municipal park, City Park, on Groom Road. Building a pavilion is one possibility for improving the facility, but other plans will depend on how much revenue is generated, Rideau said.
The funds could not be used for any of the area parks run by BREC.
State Legislative Act 294, passed during the 2015 legislative session, specifically allows Baker to levy the hotel tax if it is approved by voters. State Rep. Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge, sponsored the bill at the request of the city, Rideau said.
The special city council meeting was necessary to meet the Tuesday deadline to submit the resolution to the state bond commission.
“I take the blame for us being under the gun. I wasn’t aware of the steps we had to take. I just found out last week,” Rideau said.
Hotel stays in Baker are already taxed by East Baton Rouge Parish at a rate of 3 percent, but that revenue goes to Visit Baton Rouge.
The proposed tax would be in addition to the parish tax.
The city of Zachary is seeking to put a similar hotel tax on the Oct. 24 ballot.