Dover holding public hearing tonight on lodging tax

DOVER — City of Dover residents tonight will have an opportunity to weigh in on a proposal to allow the city to impose a 3 percent lodging tax.

A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the City Council of the Whole meeting at City Hall. It is the first item listed on the Legislative, Finance, and Administration Committee’s portion of the agenda.

Members of Dover City Council in late July voted to table an ordinance that would have created the city’s lodging tax. They now plan to vote on the proposal at their next city council meeting on Sept. 23.

The City of Dover received the ability to impose and collect a lodging tax in late June after the General Assembly approved a number of bills enabling municipalities and Kent and Sussex counties to do so.

Two separate bills gave the green light to Kent County and the city of Dover each to impose an additional 3 percent lodging tax on hotels, motels and tourist homes, on top of the 8 percent that the state already charges.
Kent County’s enabling legislation was distinct in that it would impose a tax in both the unincorporated parts of the county and inside municipal jurisdictions.

If both measures were to be implemented, the lodging tax rate inside Dover’s city limits would rise to a combined 14 percent, making it the heaviest hotel tax in the state.
Kent County Levy Court, the body that must approve a countywide tax, has not scheduled discussions on the increase.

Dover City Manager Donna Mitchell said studies took place regarding a lodging tax a couple of years ago that estimated that a 3 percent tax could take in approximately $600,000 to $800,000 in potential revenue for the city of Dover. Revenue would be used for general funds.

Legislation enabling Kent County to raise its tax earmarked the additional lodging tax revenue — an estimated $950,000 — for the Kent County Regional Sports Complex Corp., the nonprofit partnership that owns the DE Turf sports complex near Frederica.

Dover council appeared poised to pass its measure back in July when the council’s Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee voted unanimously to move the ordinance forward.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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