On the agenda for the Albany City Commissions meeting this morning is a little tidbit that might not sound like such a big deal. They are to consider raising the hotel tax, a tax that few locals ever pay. Of course, they aren’t likely to think of the ramifications of such a tax.
You see, the Commission has talked repeatedly about wanting to increase tourism to our area. They apparently want people to come to Albany to sleep in our hotels and eat in our restaurants. They want people to come here and spend money. I don’t blame them, because that money helps our economy immeasurably.
However, if you raise taxes on hotels, will that happen? Oh, it might. If you create amazing events that people just have to come to, they’ll come. However, increasing taxes may backfire on the City.
With today’s technology, people can evaluate motel and hotel costs remotely. That includes taxes. Raising the hotel tax could drive some of those potential visitors to the county, or even other counties. With them, much of the revenue the city would hope to get will go with it.
Unfortunately, I’m less than trusting that the city commission will get that. The default for government in need of more revenue is to simply raise taxes. There is nothing they are more adverse to than cutting spending. One county commissioner even challenged a resident to tell them where to cut on their budget, knowing full well that the resident hadn’t had time to comb through the entire budget to find those cuts.
When you or I have insufficient revenue in our homes or businesses, we cut our spending. We don’t have the luxury of just choosing to increase revenue, so we make cuts. They always suck, but we do them. We should expect our elected officials to do the same thing.
However, they rarely do. Like most people, when a luxury is available, they take advantage of it. Bureaucrats complain up the chain of command about lack of personnel or resources, and more money gets spent because they can always manufacture more money. However, unlike private enterprises, there is never a cost/benefit analysis. There is never a real look at how essential this is. Why should there be? It’s not like they actually need to prioritize spending. They just say what they want, and then other bureaucrats present it as absolutely essential.
So, they pass their tax increases. Then, later on, they don’t get how those tax increases have adversely affected their revenue in the long run. People make decisions based on total costs, and taxes factor into that. All people do. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, and everyone else wants to pay the least amount on all things.
Maybe someday the officials in Albany and Dougherty County will get that. I’m not going to hold my breath, but maybe.