Council Considers "Bed Tax" to Fund Airport Updates

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's city council will review a plan Tuesday to increase a levy on the city's lodging tax in an effort to fund a new airport terminal.

The plan calls for new state legislation that would increase the current tax on hotels and motels to seven percent. It's currently at four percent. That increase would create an additional $1.4 million in yearly revenue. 

The increase would go to fund a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport, costing $17 million. The new terminal would allow for larger aircrafts and more travelers. Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid says the expansion would be helpful as the University of Missouri moves to the SEC, bringing in athletes and fans from far away distances.

Opponents to the increase say it could damper local tourism's competitiveness. Although the national lodging tax average is near 13 percent, Missouri cities range between three percent and 7.75 percent. A new total of seven percent would bring Columbia to the top end of the range.

If the council approves the plan, it will then move to voters.