ADA – Pontotoc County is one of a handful of Oklahoma counties that doesn’t have a hotel-motel tax.  Officials hope that changes on July 25 as voters cast their ballots and decide on the proposed 5 percent tax.  “The only way you pay this tax is if you stay in a motel,” said County Commissioner Gary Starns.  Money collected from the tax would be earmarked specifically for the Pontotoc County Agri-Plex.

The agri-plex needs funds for maintenance and to improve the facilities so new events can be scheduled.  “We have not been able to have large crowd events like concerts because we just don’t have bleachers to accommodate the spectators,” Starns said.  “We are trying to borrow bleachers from another facility in Shawnee so we can have the Professional Bull Riding event in September,” he said. 

“We need to promote tourism in Ada, I’m just not sure we need to charge the tourists to do it,” said Brad Williamson, manager of Quality Inn of Ada. “If the tax is used to improve the agri-plex and bring in new events, we need something like that.”

Ann Tribbey, owner of Raintree Motel of Ada, was not aware the tax was being brought up again. “We’ve fought this for years. We are the only hospitality industry singled out for the tax. Tourists patronize restaurants, gas stations and other convenience services and it’s not fair to single out hotels and motels,” Tribbey said.

Victor Bolen, manager of the agri-plex, has been cost conscious with rising gas prices and the aging buildings needing maintenance.  “It makes it pretty tight, we need more money to operate,” he said.  “We’ve been listening to suggestions from the community about bringing in new events to the agri-plex,” Starns said. 

The increased crowds would mean less vacancies to local motels and more business for other area services.  Officials believe this is a good way to stimulate the local economy without putting a tax burden on the residents.  Money from the hotel-motel tax could become available as soon as November, if approved by voters, according to Starns.  

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