Friday, September 29, 2023
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Hotels Lose Bid to Keep|Tourism Tax Off Ballot

(CN) - Three St. Louis-area hotels failed to stop two cities from placing propositions to levy hotel taxes on the Nov. 2 ballot. The Missouri Court of Appeals denied the hotel's request to block the ballot initiatives.

Richmond Heights and Clayton both approved ordinances in August asking voters if they want the cities to levy a 5 percent hotel tax in order to raise funds to promote tourism.

Seven Gables Inn, the Cheshire Lodge and the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis sought an injunction to block the ballot initiatives, arguing that a St. Louis County tax prohibits cities within the county from levying their own taxes, because the county is already levying a tourism tax.

But the state appeals court held that the county ordinance allows the county and the city to impose their own separate taxes. Judge Sherri Sullivan said the statute prohibits "a city or county from levying a tax on sleeping rooms, only if that particular city or county is itself already levying a tax on those rooms pursuant to another authority" (original emphasis).

"Here, neither Clayton nor Richmond Heights is currently levying a tax on such sleeping rooms pursuant to any other authority and, therefore, they are free to place on the ballot an initiative to levy a tax on sleeping rooms ... for the voters to decide," Sullivan wrote.

The hotels' interpretation that a city can't impose a tourism tax if the county already has one "leads to absurd results because it would create a race to the ballot box between a county and the cities within the county to secure the right to impose the ... tourism tax," the court concluded.

The appeals court affirmed dismissal of the hotels' challenge.

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