Lodging tax revenue decreases again

May 17, 2010
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Revenue to Kent County from the county’s Lodging Excise Tax fell in 2009 from the previous year by roughly $310,000 or 6.3 percent. The county’s most recent report revealed the tax receipts totaled $4.68 million last year, down from $4.99 million in 2008.

Total revenue last year to the excise fund was $5.2 million, which was up by $200,000 from the $5 million captured in 2008. But the higher revenue total in 2009 was largely because the county transferred $505,000 from its general operating fund to the lodging excise account.

Total expenditures from the fund also rose last year to $5.9 million, up from $5.7 million in 2008. The single largest annual expense is the bond payment for the construction of DeVos Place, which rises on a yearly basis. In 2008, it was $4.68 million. Last year it was $4.86 million. Other major expenses last year included $700,000 for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and $200,000 for the West Michigan Sports Commission.

Expenditures topped revenues last year by almost $700,000, a deficit that was filled by the fund balance, and the shortfall marked the eighth consecutive year the fund has finished in the red. In 2002, the fund balance was $7.2 million. At the beginning of this year, the balance was just under $412,000.

County Fiscal Services Director Steve Duarte expects revenue from the tax, which adds 5 percent to a guest’s bill, to drop to $4.61 million this year and total revenue to the fund to reach $6.4 million. That latter figure may be the fund’s all-time highest total but it is due to an infusion of $1.78 million from the county’s general fund.

Duarte also expects expenditures this year to be $6.4 million. If so, 2010 will become the first year since 2001 that the county won’t have to dip into the fund balance to cover a shortfall.

“I believe we will stay within the fund balance,” he said.

This year, though, the convention center’s bond payment rises by nearly $580,000 from last year’s tab, to $5.44 million. County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio said the annual payment in the bond’s final year, which is 2031, is “on the other side of $11 million.”

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