February 1, 2016 / 6:54 PM / 3 years ago

Lodging tax would help fund 2021 championships

(Reuters) - A proposed increase in Oregon’s state lodging tax could be a significant source of income for the 2021 IAAF world championships, officials say.

A view shows the logo at the The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) headquarters in Monaco, January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Organisers of the multi-million dollar event in Eugene say they hope to ask state tourism officials for $25 million from a lodging tax increase over the next six years.

The tax would be doubled to 2 percent of room costs under a bill scheduled to be introduced in the Oregon Legislature this month and would provide additional funding for tourism endeavours across the state.

“We would be looking at $25 million of whatever that generates over the next six years to go into the world championships,” TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna told Reuters.

The statewide 1 percent tax has raised $11.4 million during the first six months of the fiscal year (July through December) and total revenues for the 2015-17 biennium are forecasted to be about $37.7 million, the state Legislative Revenue Office said.

A revenue estimate for the proposed increase has not been prepared, but is expected to about double the amount of revenue.   

Overall operating budget for the nine-day event, which will be held in the United States for the first time, is expected to be around $80 million.

Another $50-60 million, all privately funded, would be spent on renovating and enlarging the stadium for the event, Hayward Field.

“The feedback that we have received from folks in the Legislature, and our lobbyist and others, is that it is highly likely that we will get that lodging tax (increase),” Paul Weinhold, president/chief executive of the University of Oregon Foundation, told Reuters.

State leaders took a more cautious approach.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, in a statement by her staff, said she supports the championships as an excellent economic development opportunity and was working with state officials on legislation for a funding strategy for the event.

House Speaker Tina Kotek appeared more guarded.

“The Speaker appreciates that hosting a major event such as the World Track and Field Championships will increase tourism, spur economic activity, and solidify Oregon’s reputation as the track capital of the U.S.,” a statement from her office said.

“That being said, her support for state funding will hinge on the details of the proposals and whether they demonstrate strong management and oversight to ensure all public dollars are spent wisely.”

The House Republican Caucus also expressed concern.

“Given the outstanding questions surrounding the event, the fact that Legislative Democrats have yet to fully unveil the details of the funding proposal, and the time constraints of the 35-day session, it’s going to be difficult to build consensus on this issue,” the caucus said in a statement.

State Senate President Peter Courtney was more blunt, telling Oregon reporters, “I don’t support any money from the general fund being used for this event.”

But Weinhold was quick to point out, “This isn’t the general fund tax, this is a lodging tax.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Andrew Both

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