City expects boost in hotel taxes
June 4, 2017 at 9:48 p.m.
Updated June 5, 2017 at 6 a.m.
The Victoria City Council is expected to discuss a recent uptick in scarce hotel tax revenue, marking the first major increase since 2015, according to city data.
Tuesday, the council is expected to hear from city staff about how the number of hotel stays has increased in the last couple months. The city charges a 7-percent tax on stays at overnight accommodations such as hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, which is divvied up to fund events and organizations that attract more tourists to Victoria.
O.C. Garza, a spokesman for the city, said a fading oil boom has caused fewer visitors to flock to Victoria, leaving city officials with less money to dole out to events and nonprofits than in previous years. During the oil industry's peak around 2012, the city would distribute nearly $400,000 to local groups and events, but that number dropped to $164,000 this year, he said.
"When oil is booming in this part of Texas, money is just flying through the door," said Garza.
The city collected less tourism tax revenue than expected during the beginning of 2017. However, those numbers grew higher than expected in March and April, said Garza.
Under state law, cities in Texas can only spend hotel tax revenue to promote tourism in the area. In Victoria, the tax revenue has helped fund events ranging from Comic Con to the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival.
During Tuesday's meeting, Garza said city staff will also discuss tourism tax projections for 2018.
"Then it will be up to council to determine the best way to spend the money," said Garza.