On Saturday in Baton Rouge, voters are being urged to approve increasing the existing hotel tax another 2 percent under the guise that we don’t pay for it, someone else does. Let’s do a deep-dive on it. Visit Baton Rouge's website states 47 percent of the visitors to Baton Rouge are family and friends. If this tax is passed, it should be called “How I rolled my family and friends.” Proponents for the tax comment that the citizens of East Baton Rouge do not pay the tax. The reality is that we do. When we travel elsewhere, we get to pay a tax to another political entity. We raise our taxes here, they raise their taxes there. It continues a vicious tit-for-tat cycle ... all based on the hideous argument that you don’t pay the tax, when you do pay it elsewhere when you travel.
The argument is made that raising the tax will increase employment. Where is the data supporting that? The reality is, taxes do not increase employment; they drive business away. In fact, if the tax is passed, Baton Rouge will carry the distinction of having the highest hotel sales tax in Louisiana. Quite a feat.
The tax, as proposed, is for perpetuity — no sunset date. Do we want taxes that live in perpetuity? Tax proponents comment that the tax increase would put us in line with other cities. Checks that I have made prove otherwise. And if there are cities with higher hotel tax rates than Baton Rouge, who goes there, anyway?
If you want to attract more visitors to Baton Rouge, we should use the mantra “We save you money …because we provide very cost-competitive hotels, instead of gouging our family and friends.”
Let’s bring some common sense to what is being asked. Vote against the tax increase.