New hotel tax in Johnson County would fund horse park, tourism bureau

December 15, 2008
Johnson County officials this month approved a 7-percent tax on hotel-room stays. The innkeepers' tax must now gain the approval of state legislators, who begin their 2009 legislative session in January.

County officials have earmarked half the money to start a tourism and convention bureau and the other half to pay back a $22 million loan that funded upgrades to Johnson County Park and Hoosier Horse Park in southern Johnson County. The county projects raising $700,000 annually through the innkeepers' tax.

The tax must be approved by state lawmakers because the horse park is not a permitted use of such funds under state law. If the tax is approved, Johnson County would join more than 60 of Indiana's 92 counties that now have an innkeepers' tax.

The Johnson County Council voted down an earlier version of the tax that would have allocated $500,000 annually toward the horse park. Several county members said since the tax is collected countywide, it should be used for a project-such as the tourism and convention bureau-that would affect a greater number of county residents.

By putting the funds into a tourism and convention bureau, Johnson County could promote all its local attractions, including the horse park, shopping malls in Edinburgh and Greenwood, and various businesses and local landmarks, County Councilman John Price said.
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