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Tourism Group Formed under Industrial Authority Propose Special Election for Lodging Tax

The Murray County Industrial Authority has formed a tourism committee. The group now approaching its third meeting at the County Commissioner’s table is in hopes of reaching an agreement to terms of hosting an election to execute a county lodging tax.
Members of the tourism group the tax said would be used to promote the county for tourism. This item was not on the July 24 agenda. It is slated for the July 31, 9 a.m. County Commissioners meeting.
Articles have been submitted by Sulphur Times Democrat Editor, Kathy John. John was present for both meetings.

Officials Meet To Mull Lodging Tax

By Kathy John, Sulphur Times Democrat July 13, 2023
Murray County Commissioners along with several members of a recently formed tourism committee mulled over the idea of calling for a special election to implement a county lodging tax at the regular weekly meeting on Monday.
Davis City Manager Ricky Harness addressed the board stating the intentions behind the county lodging tax would be to use revenues to further promote tourism in the county as well as other county projects. Harness told members the need for more things for tourist to do other than camping and swimming so as to keep them here for longer periods of time.
Both of towns of Sulphur and Davis already have a lodging tax in place. Davis collects 5% and Sulphur collects 5.5% with 1/2% going to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for collection fees.
Debbie Sharp, a member of the committee and also a board member of the Murray County Industrial Authority also addressed the group reiterating the need for more hotels, restaurants and venues for tourist as well as beautification    in the area.
Although the group has not decided on what amount of tax to put on the ballot, Harness said a 5% county lodging tax would generate approximately $140,000.00 per year in taxes.
The board of commissioners and the committee will also have to determine how much of the revenue would stay with the county and how much would go to promote tourism.
The committee is possibly looking at a special election in October to vote on the measure.
Also present at the meeting regarding the lodging tax was Sulphur City Manager Andy Freeman and Murray County Industrial Authority Director Kenny Howard.
In other action the board approved designated receiving and requisitioning agents for the Murray County Assessor’s office.
All three council members were present at the meeting.

Groups Still Not In Agreement On Lodging Tax

By Kathy John, July 20, 2023
Discussions of possibly calling for a special election to propose a county lodging tax continued at the County Commissioners meeting Monday morning.
Several members of a newly formed tourism committee met with the board at last weeks meeting to discuss the measure with nothing definite decided.
At this week’s meeting, tourism committee members Debbie Sharp and Brandy Baldwin, Davis Chamber Director, submitted a proposed resolution for the lodging tax.
Members of the committee drafted the proposal which outlined the tax and the uses for the money. In the resolution, the committee proposed the tax at 5% with 1% going to the Oklahoma Tax Commission for services rendered in collection of the tax; 4% to the Murray County Treasurer for services rendered in collection of the tax and 95% being divided as follows: 70% to the Murray County Tourism Committee, under the umbrella of the Murray County Industrial Authority for the sole and exclusive purpose of tourism infrastructure and infrastructure improvements, economic and community development through tourism, tourism promotion and development of recreational activities beneficial to Murray County. These funds would be deposited into a lodging tax revolving fund, a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal year limitations.
The proposal further stated that the other 30% of the tax    would go to the Murray County Commissioners for new infrastructure and/or maintenance within Murray County.
The proposal presented was met with strong opposition from the Board of Commissioners who stated they were not comfortable with and are not in agreement with the 70/30 split.
A county lodging tax vote must be called by the Board of County Commissioners or by a petition signed by a percentage of the registered voters in the county.
District 2 Commissioner Colt Williams told the committee that the board would like to see the proposition to be more open and not specify percentages to certain entities, but rather be collected on an annual basis and distributed among the commissioners, tourism committee and rural fire departments, based on what the total amount of the annual collection.
No definite and final proposition was determined at the meeting.
The plan is to have the election set for Oct. 10, 2023. The deadline to call for the October date is Aug. 10, 2023.
Matt Stanley, a representative of the Deer Creek Cabins of Davis, was also present at the meeting to voice his opposition of the tax.
In other agenda action the board approved the following:
•REAP Grant applications and resolutions for all three commissioner districts;
•contract between Murray County Health Department and Daisha Graves; and
•sign and approve financial statement for 2023 for the Murray County Treasurer’s office.
All three board members were present at the meeting.

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