City Council approves lodging tax, license plate readers

Published 9:25 am Friday, April 14, 2023

Star Correspondent
The city of Elizabethton will begin collecting a hotel and motel tax this summer after council members unanimously approved the plan on Thursday.
City Council members also approved resolutions to obtain license plate readers and permit a fiber optics company to use utility poles.
The city will collect a 4% hotel and motel tax, which is the maximum amount permitted by state law. The tax will be collected from local accommodations, such as motels, hotels and other short-term lodging facilities. According to the resolution, taxes will be due to the city by the 20th day of the month.
Elizabethton could collect $50,000 a year, which must be used to promote tourism and development, per state law.
Currently, Carter County has a 5% hotel and motel tax. The county averages about $200,000 in revenue.
City Manager Daniel Estes said the city will properly notify local businesses via letters about the new tax. He told council members that there are currently two hotels in the city. Staff members are also working to determine how to collect the taxes from online marketplaces, such as Airbnb.
The city is expected to begin collecting the new hotel and motel tax in July.
Council members also approved a contract with SkyBest Communications to install fiber optic cables on 151 Elizabethton Electric Department poles.
The North Carolina-based broadband internet service provider will pay the city $38 per attachment, generating about $5,738 in annual rent.
SkyBest is developing fiber optic internet service in rural parts of Carter County. The initial fiber build will be in the Hampton area near the Doe River Gorge Road area and going north on U.S. Highway 19E to the U.S. Highway 321 intersection, then east on 321 around Watauga Lake to the end of the Elizabethton Electric system, according to the resolution.
The council approved an agreement with Flock Group Inc. for automated license plate readers. Using grant funding, the city will pay $28,500 in the first year and $25,000 in the second year.
The stationary devices will be placed in “strategic locations” throughout the city. An automated license plate reader is a computer-based system that uses cameras to capture vehicle license plate information, compares the license plate information to various state and national databases and stores the images on a remote server, the agenda item states. Information is then stored for 30 days.
Elizabethton Police Department criminal investigators will be able to search and review video footage based on location and time to potentially identify suspect vehicles and establish timelines, the resolution states.
The Elizabethton Beer Board met after the City Council meeting approved a beer permit application from Daddy Mac Depot. The new barbecue restaurant will open at the former Smokehouse BBQ in the 1900 block of Milligan Highway. The restaurant is located along the Tweetsie Trail.

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