The Dunwoody City Council is hoping to join with other cities in the area to raise its hotel/motel tax from 5 percent to 8 percent to promote tourism in the city and is asking the state legislature for approval.
At a Feb. 21 special called meeting, Mayor Denis Shortal and Councilmembers Jim Riticher and Pam Tallmadge voted in favor of the resolution to ask the General Assembly to approve raising its hotel tax three percent.
“The City of Dunwoody intends to use the proceeds of such tax for any legalpurposes, to include specifically, but not necessarily limited to, promoting tourism, conventions and trade shows by a qualified destination marketing organization established and designated by the City of Dunwoody for such purposes,” states the resolution approved by council.
Councilmember Terry Nall voted against the resolution because, he said in a statement, the issue was too rushed and lacked transparency.
“The process we have used may for this meeting be technically legal, but is flawed by Dunwoody standards,” Nall said. “A special called meeting suggests we’re dealing with a matter of clear and present urgency that cannot be handled through our scheduled meetings. This agenda item of the hotel tax resolution is not the case.”
The Monday, Feb. 21 meeting was scheduled on Friday. Councilmembers John Heneghan, Lynn Deutsch and Doug Thompson were unable to be at the meeting.
Economic Development Director Michael Starling and city spokesperson Bob Mullen explained the need for the council to quickly consider the resolution was due to deadlines at the state legislature.
“The special called meeting was called for today [Monday, Feb. 21] because [Feb. 21] was the final day possible to approve and submit a resolution prior to the legislation being adopted at the state level due to deadlines for advertising and consideration by state representatives,” Mullen said in an email.
“It’s important to note that the resolution does not set Dunwoody’s tax rate but merely adds a tool to allowing council to consider and subsequently adopt an appropriate amount to be used in accordance with state law. That rate and use will be vetted and considered at a later time; allowing vested parties to participate in the process to both set the rate and identify the usage,” Mullen said.
Nall, however, was not impressed with having to meet a deadline, saying the process for calling the meeting was not proper and “stunning.”
“It’s not a decent or orderly process when we’ve had 10 months prior to the General Assembly opening session to consider this hotel tax resolution and review it with our legislators to seek their buy-in in advance, which is required for this to pass,” Nall said in his statement. “This was not a legislative priority we as a council set in the fall. This was not a priority direction we gave to staff at our retreat on Feb 9-10. This was not a topic we discussed at our council meeting just last Monday.”
The Brookhaven City Council voted Feb. 15 to also ask the legislature to approve raising its motel/hotel tax from 5 to 8 percent so it can use the added revenue to specifically fund a portion of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, a 12-mile multi-use path and linear park that is designed, in the long term, to connect the Atlanta BeltLine to Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville. Three miles of the Greenway is located in Brookhaven.
Chamblee and Doraville have also recently passed resolutions asking state lawmakers approve raising its motel/hotel tax from 5 to 8 percent.