A Smart Use of Local Lodging Tax Dollars

By Oregon Restaurant And Lodging Association,

As of January 1, 2023, a 2% increase in local lodging tax has been in effect in Lane County. How these new revenues will be spent is still undecided. The Board of Commissioners held a meeting back in September to hear public comments in support of proposals including building a new stadium for the Emeralds baseball team and an indoor multi-use stadium.

ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley, along with a few ORLA members, provided testimony at the hearing urging Lane County Commissioners to use any new increase in lodging tax toward an indoor multi-use facility. The following summarizes why we think an indoor facility is a smarter use for those tourism revenues:

As hospitality businesses continue to try and recover from the two and a half years of the global pandemic, the shutdowns that occurred because of that pandemic and the ongoing issues of inflation, rising gas prices and continued supply chain issues, there is a clear need for more stable, year-round revenue from visitors to help that recovery.
Summer demand is already high in Lane County as visitors enjoy outdoor recreation, wine tasting, various festivals and sporting events and other activities undertaken during the summer months when the weather is favorable.  During the winter months and shoulder seasons however, especially January through March, visitors are less likely to visit and support our local economy.

Therefore, we believe the best use of any new increase in TLT is growing winter travel demand. TLT reinvested in our challenging winter economy is good for local businesses, from hotels to restaurants and retail and will support year-round employment. Additionally, increasing visitor demand in winter will grow TLT revenue for all recipient programs and jurisdictions.  Finally, increases in TLT should be used in ways relevant to drawing visitors, putting “heads in beds” and continuing to increase overall TLT revenue.

ORLA supports investment in an indoor multi-use sports facility, with the added feature of a hydraulic, banked 200m track. This facility can accommodate a wide range of sports tournaments, events and offer temperature-controlled emergency response in all seasons. This represents a much-needed investment in facilities serving local youth and all ages who participate in healthy activities, while also drawing visitors in winter. The Eugene/Springfield metro area is underbuilt related to active and healthy indoor facility space compared to national averages. Multi-use sports facilities draw visitors, are recession resistant and are good for our community health. 
Visitors already know and love Eugene and the surrounding areas of Lane County in summertime.  Investing in an indoor multi-use sports facility will allow them the opportunity to experience it during the winter months and shoulder seasons helping to support local jobs, the local economy and the overall health of the community.  We encourage the use of any increase in the TLT rate to go toward this endeavor.

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