Dells approves room tax increase

Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau
The Wisconsin Dells Common Council unanimously approved amendments to two tax ordinances to provide funds for economic development.

The council approved an amendment to an ordinance governing the room tax. Only first reading was given to the amendment to the room tax ordinance that raises the room tax by one-half percent. That amendment will not affect the budget, so it would not need a second reading at Monday’s council meeting, said Alderperson Dar Mor.

Former Mayor Eric Helland in the citizens comment section of the meeting said the council should not do both first and second readings in one meeting unless the issue was “vital” one.

The room tax increase will primarily increase the funds that go to the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. The bureau plans to use those funds for economic development. Of the room tax collected in the city, 90 percent goes to the bureau.

The village of Lake Delton, town of Delton and town of Dell Prairie will also be asked to increase the room tax by the same amount. The village of Lake Delton is to take up the question of the increase at its meeting on Monday.

In the village of Lake Delton, 90 percent of the room tax money also goes to the bureau. In the town of Delton, 70 percent of the room tax money goes to the bureau.

Romy Snyder, executive director of the bureau, said she expects the increase will bring $850,000 per year to the bureau for use in tourism development.

The council Monday also amended its premier resort tax ordinance. The amendment states that the additional quarter percent increase of the premier resort tax effective July 1 will be “designed specifically for revitalization projects such as identified in the Roger Brooks Downtown Branding, Development and Marketing Action Plan.” That amendment was given both a first and second reading since the council and the finance committee need to know how to allocate premier resort tax as the city budget is readied for a public hearing and passage in November.

The council also approved on second reading the ordinance that bans smoking in city parks. The vote was 5-1, with Alderperson Ed Fox voting against it.

Helland said he opposed the ordinance. He said it could cause a safety issue, and gave as an example a grandmother who is watching children on the playground and then leaves them alone while she goes into the street to smoke.

He also said the ordinance creates an enforcement issue. “Why are you going to enforce that when you are not enforcing ordinances on the books,” Helland said. As an example, he cited the city ordinance on dogs He said the city had two dog bites recently and dogs are running loose.

“We follow up on all dog complaints,” said Police Chief Jody Ward.

The police’s valuable time could be better spent in other ways, Helland said.

Helland’s arguments did not sway any members of council. Fox had voted against the ordinance on its first reading.

In other action, the council approved the following:

  • A low bid from Longlife Roofing of $44,940 to re-roof the Municipal Building. The other bid, from Customfoam Corporation of Mauston was for $76,890.
  • A taxicab license for Larry K. Volkey for Dells Cab.
  • A beer license for Woodside Sports Complex.
  • The site plan for the Coldwater Canyon Golf Course Clubhouse.
  • A compost site agreement with Kilbourn-Ableman LLC.
  • An agreement for engineering services from General Engineering for the Highway 13 and Woodside Way intersection.
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