With the Leander’s first hotel set to open this fall, the City of Leander will finally be able to utilize its new, specialized Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT Tax) to promote tourism to the city.
The Leander City Council voted Thursday to approve an agreement between the city and the Leander Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center to coordinate the usage of up to 75 percent of the HOT Tax funds that will be collected in the future.
“The first step will be to build up awareness for Leander. The goal in building up that awareness is to put people in that hotel…We hope that it will breed more success, more hotels coming here and just more people coming to Leander to shop, explore or visit, “said Bridget Brandt, President & CEO of the Leander Chamber of Commerce. “Because we can use (Chamber) staff, we can get this going right away on projects. If you had to hire even one new person, all of the funds would have to paying for that person...Because we have the experience and the staff already in place, we can get going right away."
Brandt said the first step will be for the Chamber Board of Directors to establish a tourism subcommittee to oversee and plan for the usage of the funds independent of the board. She said they will then seek community members and staff members from the City and the Chamber to occupy the subcommittee’s seats over the next few weeks.
She said they hope to have the first plans on how to utilize the initial funds they received by January. She said she anticipates some of the first steps will involve being listed on statewide tourism publications and guides to draw people to the city.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites-Leander, an 84-room hotel, is set to open this fall at 247 West Metro Drive. The HOT Tax that will be levied with the hotel will included a 7 percent tax for the city and an additional 6 percent tax from the State of Texas.
The 5-year Chamber agreement will go into effect Oct. 1 with two successive opportunities to extend the agreement by an additional 5-year term. Either party can give notice and subsequently leave the agreement at any time. In addition, the calculation for the portion the Chamber receives includes built-in adjustments that scales down how much the Chamber receives as the total amount collected with the tax grows or if the City chooses to redirect a percentage of the funds to other narrowly defined uses allowed under state law.
As part of the agreement, the Chamber will provide a comprehensive report every April on its plans for the funds and how it has used it in the prior year.