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Llano County - Unincorporated Area

Now that the Marriott has opened, and there is the potential for the 7% hotel occupancy tax to generate an estimated $600,000 annually, all of a sudden residents in northern Llano County have begun to lobby the Commissioner's Court to impose this tax.

If the county successfully adopts a hotel occupancy tax, while Horseshoe Bay is still an unincorporated area, they will be entitled to continue to collect that tax after we incorporate (if we do). Conversely, if we incorporate before they impose this tax, we would be excluded from their jurisdiction for that tax.

ARTICLE APPEARING IN THE LLANO BUZZ:
(
Visit The Highlander News Website for more articles)

New committee will study Llano County hotel/motel occupancy tax

LLANO COUNTY -- The possibility of a county-wide hotel-motel occupancy tax will receive closer scrutiny from an ad hoc committee for study of the question appointed Monday by the Llano County Commissioners Court. The committee was created in response to a formal request from citizens, headed by Fran Merritt of Castell.

Appearing before the court June 27, Merritt reported that each of four meetings was attended by an almost entirely different group of people. "Not everyone is 100 percent in favor of a tax, and we came up with more questions than answers," she said. "The only thing for sure is that everyone wants to improve the economy of Llano County and tourism is a good way to do that.

"The bottom line seems to be that citizens in a loose-knit group are not getting anywhere."We are seeking unification through a court appointed committee."

In January the court responded to the citizen request by adopting a resolution requesting state approval of a county hotel occupancy tax. A group represented by Rusty Brandon, owner of Hi-Line Lake Resort on Lake Buchanan, had urged the court to act quickly to achieve the next step in the process, presentation of a bill before the 79th Legislature.

That step depended on action by State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran of Fredericksburg or State Sen. Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay. Enough opposition was posed to prevent legislation from moving forward, but the court's resolution might still be honored in the 80th session of the Texas Legislature.

The committee appointed by the court will continue a community education and will organize community feedback which can then be used to make a decision about possible legislation. Precinct 3 Commissioner Duane Stueven, appointed as liaison to the ad hoc committee, said that it was his hope that by September 2006 a report or proposal could be completed. Merritt is one of the members from Leon Tucker's Precinct 4, which includes Gene Miller, who has a working ranch and two bed-and-breakfast operations and Randy Leifeste, who operates Castell General Store and a guest lodge on the Llano River.

Representatives of Precinct 3 are Kay King of Valentine's Lodge, Henry Koenig of Rio Vista Lodge and Jon Selby of Barb's Quilt Nook, all in Kingsland.

From Precinct 2, representatives are Ken Otte of Poppy's Pointe, Steve Buchanan of Pelican Point Resort and Tammy McPeters of Cedar Lodge, all on Lake Buchanan. Precinct 1 Commis-sioner Wayne Brascom has yet to appoint the third committee member from his southwestern area of the county. Ron Paynter of the Horseshoe Bay Marriott Hotel and David Brinkman of Lost Creek Winery near Sunrise Beach Village were approved by the court.

County Judge R.G. Floyd said his appointments were made by the point of a finger to Janelle Gray, who manages the county's indigent health program, Beverly Gatliff of Llano, who works in the county attorney's office and Kenneth Poe of Buchanan Dam, who is employed with Herschfield Steel in Marble Falls.

Stueven said he had been answering questions about the possibility of a tax for a couple of years and provided each committee member with a file loaded with the information he had collected.

Committee members will be able to talk to other citizens in their areas with background information on the legislation that enables counties to adopt the tax, guidelines from the governor and the secretary of state and a description of how Burnet County established a system to collect and administer funds from hotel and motel guests.

All the committee meetings will be open to the public on dates to be announced in advance.


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