The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

May 7, 2013

City of Enid ends exemption

ENID, Okla. — The city of Enid has lost more than $1 million since 2011, through an exemption that allows some hotel tenants to avoid paying taxes on their room, city records show.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year alone, the permanent resident exemption kept long-term residents of hotels from paying $553,600 worth of an 8-percent tax aimed at boosting the city’s tourism budget, the city’s finance director told Enid City Commission on Monday.

Commissioners voted Monday to end the exemption.

Many of the permanent residents are believed to be workers who followed the energy boom to western Oklahoma.

Steve Barnes, general manager of Chisholm Trail Expo Center, said he is grateful to the city for their action Monday night. The Expo Center gets 3 percent of the tax revenue from the so-called bed tax, and if the exemption had been removed before last year, the center would have received about $16,600 extra.

“It’s a great deal for the Expo Center to have this increased tax revenue,” Barnes said. “The only money that we get here at the Expo Center is from either the revenue we receive off the events that we host, or from the bed tax.”

Barnes said City Manager Eric Benson mentioned the proposal at a previous meeting of the center’s governing board.

“We were certainly in favor of that and backed him on getting that done,” Barnes said.

Another 5 percent of the hotel tax revenue goes toward Enid Event Center, Convention Hall and Cherokee Strip Conference Center. Government employees will continue to receive the hotel tax exemption.

Officials say there is an issue of limited housing in Enid, calling the situation a “choke point” that could hinder the attraction of new businesses to the area. Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling said the issue isn’t quite a problem.

“It’s growing pains because our local economy is growing so fast that housing has become our next choke point,” he said.

ERDA has hired a firm to conduct a housing study this summer, with the goal of finding out the city’s needs and how to get more homes built.

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