Bill Would Increase Rochester Hotel Tax to Fund Civic Center Expansion

Posted at: 02/06/2013 7:35 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A bill was introduced Monday that may effect visitors to Rochester.

The bill proposes a 3 percent sales tax on lodging and would raise 50 million dollars for the city of Rochester. That money would go toward the cities share of funding the Mayo Civic Center expansion.
Each year more than 300,000 Mayo Clinic patients make a trip to Rochester.

"Our stay has been cold, it's been really cold," said Julie Frendle.

Julie Frendle of Albuquerque says besides the cold her stay has been wonderful, and compared to other places it's been cheap.

"He had a another transplant in Seattle Washington and it was much more expensive there," said Frendle.

But a night stay in Rochester may soon cost a little bit more.

"Bring it on, we've been working on this for a long time for the civic center funding," said Dan Nelson.

Hampton Inn Hotel manager Dan Nelson says the tax increase would be worth it for the number of visitors the new expansion would bring in.

"Shortened visits by clinic patients has created a gap for all the hotels," said Nelson.

Other hotel's agree with Nelson, saying tax rates in Rochester are much lower compared to other cities.

"Minneapolis is much higher, Bloomington is higher, and that's just in our state then you go outside there are much higher lodging taxes," said Kristine Ihrke.

Ihrke of the Best Western says guests may not even notice the change in price.

"I don't see it as a huge amount, of course no one likes higher taxes, but we need that for the benefits we enjoy as a community," said Ihrke.

Rochester representative Tina Liebling who introduced the bill said in a statement "We've been trying to do this for years, this is a way to pay for the cities share and we are hoping this year it would go through."

"This is our year we're going to get it done," said Nelson.

Frendle says the tax increase would definitely not effect her travel plans to Rochester.

"No that wouldn't stop me, Mayo Clinic is going to bring me here," said Frendle.

The bill was introduced in the house on Monday. Liebling told me they are hopeful it will eventually become part of this years omnibus tax bill.

To move on with the exspansion they also need to get funding from the state as well.