The city council has plans to make the Island better than ever. Ideas range from bay access improvements, a parking garage, an amphitheater facility, and the purchase of land to the concept of creating a convention center annex. One way city officials plan to fund theses improvements is to raise the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent. The council agreed to take that issue to voters by calling a special election in November. In order to do that, they must send a resolution to the Texas Comptrollers of Public Accounts Office that includes what projects will be completed using those funds. “It’s not easy to get things done and get the voter’s support,” said Barry Patel, SPI mayor.
If approved, the new tax dollars will work to finance the venue projects to help make the Island a world-class vacation destination. The current hotel occupancy tax rate is 14.5 percent and would increase to 16.5 percent if approved. That means a hotel room priced at $150 a night would be $171.75 per night under the current hotel tax. It would cost $174.75 with the 2-percent increase. Officials say the city will be providing more entertainment and attractions for visitors to stay longer on the Island with the tax increase. InterimCity Manager Darla Jones said communities such as San Antonio used the room tax increase approach to help gather funds to build the world-renowned River Walk. “We are identifying projects that we want to do and we have to submit those ideas to the state comptroller,” Jones said.
The state comptroller has to agree with the projects before the city can take the tax increase question to the voters. “They have to be projects that the residents and the property owners are going to support,” said Alita Bagley, SPI mayor pro-tem. “We have our work cut out for us during the next month and a half to get more detail to the voters so they know what they are supporting.”

By RAUL GARCIA | Staff writer