The City of Tulsa is nearing the end of a process to set up a citywide Tourism Improvement District.
The district would impose a 3 percent tax on the gross receipts of hotels with at least 110 rooms, generating an estimated $2.3 million dollars to spend on ramped-up marketing to lure new tourists to Tulsa.
Currently, the city council is in the process of adopting an assessment roll of 33 affected hotels. Chief of Community Development and Policy Nick Doctor said one hotel on the list is claiming 109 rooms, but that will get resolved one way or another.
"The first public hearing is really a chance for them to bring proof forward, and then if we need to, we could have someone like the fire marshal’s office go through verification for us if it’s a very close threshold issue," Doctor said.
There will be a public hearing on the assessment roll next week, and the goal is setting it in city ordinances Jan. 30 — but tax collections wouldn’t begin right away.
"Per state law, you have to start each financial quarter. So, it will become operative April 1, and we’ll be doing an assessment roll essentially rechecking before that April 1 deadline every year going forward," Doctor said.
Once the Tourism Improvement District is up and running, hoteliers will not be able to simply skip out on the tax bill.
"If there’s a nonpayment for a certain period of time, the city can come in and place liens on that property for nonpayment and treat this very similar to other assessments of this nature," Doctor said.
Whether the city starts collecting taxes April 1 may depend on the outcome of a lawsuit filed in December by the owners of the downtown Aloft hotel. They say more than half the hotels subject to the Tourism Improvement District object to it and the city did not follow the proper procedure to establish the district.