|Two inns cited for failure to pay taxes|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Jan. 19, 2005 -- Citations have been issued this week by the city of Sulphur Springs to two local hotels that have failed to report their occupancy tax to the city, according to City Manager Marc Maxwell.
"We've got a couple of the hotels that haven't reported or remitted their occupancy tax revenues," he said. "In Budget Inn's case, since April of 2004, and Holiday Inn since August 2004."
Failure to report or pay the occupancy tax is a violation of city ordinances, punishable by a fine of up to $200 per day.
"It is an offense for every day that they haven't filed," Maxwell said. "So they could, feasibly, get a ticket a day."
A citation was hand-delivered to one of the hotels Wednesday morning and a ticket was mailed to the other.
Maxwell said the hotels also had not reported to the state, and he could only guess on the amounts of money owed the city. That guess adds up to approximately $20,000.
"We do estimate Budget Inn's amount to be about $3,000 that they are in arrears, and Holiday Inn between $15,000 and $17,000," the city manager said.
A call to Holiday Inn owner Jay Rajpal was not returned by mid-day Wednesday.
Funil Patel, manager at Budget Inn, said at mid-morning he was working on resolving the situation. Maxwell said that Patel came to the city offices later in the morning and paid his portion of the delinquent tax.
Maxwell said this is not the first time the occupancy tax has not been paid or reported.
"We seem to see a pattern beginning to appear," he said. "We want to break that habit, and I think we will be able to."
According to the state comptroller's Internet website, Budget Inn is reported as having filed a report for the third quarter of 2004 while Holiday Inn's last quarterly report was for the second quarter of last year.
Revenue generated by the hotel occupancy tax in Sulphur Sprints averages just more than $186,000 annually. One half of that amount goes to Hopkins County Regional Civic Center, where it is used for capital improvements.
County commissioners recently approved a plan to construct an equine facility at the Civic Center using hotel occupancy tax dollars to fund the project, now estimated to cost in excess of $1 million.
A major portion of the other half of the occupancy tax receipts goes to Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce for the promotion of tourism in the city.
Another portion of the money goes to various organizations in the community, including Hopkins County Historical Society and Hopkins County Genealogical Society.