Council kills motel tax


Staff Writer

HOWELL — Township Council members who did not wish to institute an additional tax on patrons of local hotels and motels recently pulled an ordinance from the table that would have done so. It does not appear as if the proposal will see the light of day again.

The state already collects a 5 percent occupancy tax on a patron’s bill. Under the law instituting that fee, a municipality has the right to impose its own 3 percent occupancy tax. That 3 percent add-on tax would be collected by the state and returned to the township.

There was some misunderstanding as to whether Howell would have to institute the additional 3 percent tax in order to receive any reimbursement from the state.

A Treasury Department spokesperson told the Tri-Town News there is no reimbursement from the state’s 5 percent fee. The only reimbursement to a town comes from the municipality’s tax.

Howell officials decided they did not want to pursue the additional 3 percent tax.

Councilman Peter Tobasco said he was in favor of receiving every payment that is due from the state, but was opposed to levying a new tax on hotel and motel operators and their patrons.

During public comment, former Mayor Suzanne Veitengruber noted that the occupancy fee is a “user tax and not a business tax.”

But Tobasco said that since Howell is trying to encourage businesses to come to town, he did not like the idea of setting the precedent of an additional business tax or even giving the appearance that would happen.

“We don’t want to discourage business. [We don’t want to] make people go to another town,” the councilman said.

Veitengruber countered by saying that not only do hotel and motel rates increase the closer one gets to the shore, people, she opined, would not go to another town because of an additional $3 charge on a $100 bill.

Making an allusion to interest in Howell being expressed by a national hotel chain that was not named, Tobasco said he agreed and was not against adopting the ordinance from “a dollar perspective, but from it looking like another tax.”

Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Filiatreault said he did not intend to recommend the governing body take any further action in the matter.