By Roger Yu, USA TODAY
More cities, counties and states are looking to raise taxes on hotel rooms as they battle budget shortfalls and cuts in services.
Among those increasing taxes or considering it: Baltimore; Scottsdale. Ariz.; Santa Clara, Calif.; and Connecticut .
Taxing visitors is an old habit for local governments. Revenue from taxes on hotel rooms and rental cars have been used to fund tourism promotion, build stadiums and repair roads.
While the taxes can infuriate travelers, they're seen as a politically palatable option in tough economic times.
"The government entities are hurting financially and are looking for creative means to generate more revenue," says Trisha Pugal, CEO of Wisconsin Innkeepers Association.
A report by the National Business Travel Association last year says taxes for a single night at the national average room rate of $95.61 were $13.12. The combined lodging taxes levied by state, county and city averaged 13.73%. Tax rates ranged from 10.05% in Burbank, Calif. to 17.91% in New York .
The lower end, below $11 a night
in tax, includes Burbank, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale. Oakland and San Jose. Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville. New York and San Antonio are on the higher end, above $16. Recently:
•Voters in Scottsdale and Tempe, Ariz.. last month approved increasing hotel room taxes by 2 percentage points. In Scottsdale, the rate will increase to 13.92%. Tempe's rate rises to 14.07%. Brent DeRaad of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau says about 18% of the revenue funds his organization. The city, county and state split the rest.
•Santa Clar a voted on an increase last month to generate $35 million of the $937 million needed to build a stadium for the San Francisco 49ers NFL team. The room tax rises from 9.5% to 11.5%.
•Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will introduce measures April 12 to address the city's $120 million deficit. Raising the hotel tax from 7.5% is an option being discussed, says Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for the mayor.
•Connecticut is considering raising its 12% hotel tax to 15%. The money would be distributed to cities and towns.