Lansing lobbied hard at the state Senate Thursday to be included in a bill that would permit Grand Rapids to bump up the assessment they currently charge on hotels, per room, by 1 to 2 percent.
The current rate in the region is 4 or 5 percent.
Lansing's mayor Virg Bernero says it is key to competing.
"It's a pass through tax. What we're talking about is taxing tourists," he says. It is, in his opinion, the ideal way to find money without reaching into the region's pockets. He estimates it's a possible winfall of as much a million dollars--all of it set aside to market the region.
What's more, if Grand Rapids gets the permission, it's important to Lansing too. West Michigan's DeVos Place is tough competition in Lansing's quest for convention business.
"We need to arm ourselves for that battle. We need to compete," says Bernero.
Even if the bill passes through state government, the assessment is a decision that is still up to the industry that would be assessing this tax.
Hotel owners and managers are part of a committee at the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. That board will vote to decide if they want to use the option to increase the assessment.
LEPFA President and CEO Eric Hart says he thinks most hoteliers aren't opposed because the measure keeps rates reasonable and increases their marketing as well.
Because the bill was amending in the state Senate Thursday, it will have to go back to the House--where it was approved--before it could go to the governor's desk.