Not everybody on board with tax increase for airport terminal

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Hospitality Association announced Tuesday it would not endorse the one percent lodging tax, designed to help pay for a new $40 million airport terminal, unless the city comes up with a financial plan.

The city decided last Monday to present the tax proposal to voters on the August 2 ballot.

Glyn Laverick is the hospitality association president and said the group represents more than half of the hotel rooms in Columbia.

"We seem to be the only definitive funding source in all of this," Laverick said. "The FAA is on the slate to provide 50 percent of the funding but the city hasn't even filed an application for that yet."

Laverick said the city proposed a parking fee at the airport to fund about $8 million.

"But both the city manager and assistant city manager have publicly said that they don't support charging any parking fees," he said.

Laverick said the city also hasn't addressed where the terminal's operating expenses will come from.

"So we have no idea how we're going to facilitate all of the staff and other expenses and maintains a $40 million facility," he said.

Laverick said the hospitality association has asked the city for a financial plan numerous times but has not received one.

"The CHA has to ask the question on behalf of hoteliers and really has to ask the question on behalf of the taxpayers; are we spending this money wisely?" he said.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce voted Tuesday to endorse the one percent tax increase.

The Columbia Regional Airport Terminal Master Plan proposal would increase the hotel/motel tax to five percent.

The potential ballot language for the hotel/motel tax can be found on the city council agenda.