Linn County’s transient lodging tax generated more than $112,000 during its first six months, according to records in the Linn Treasurer’s Office.
The Linn County Board of Commissioners last year approved a 3% tax on all overnight lodging facilities, from bed and breakfasts and campgrounds to motels. Funds generated in ZIP code areas 97321 and 97322 will be used to support the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.
The commissioners estimated that income would amount to about $340,000 per year.
Commissioner Will Tucker has supported a transient lodging tax for several years.
“This was something I wanted to get going for a long time,” Tucker said. “We are expecting to do some great things at the Fair & Expo with this money, as well as at our county parks.”
Tucker said that, for example, funds will be used to purchase yurts at some parks.
“We’ve already got one up at River Bend Campground and we’re looking forward to more,” Tucker said.
Tucker said the county is still in the process of identifying potential providers who will need to collect the tax.
“The income is a little less than I expected, but we’re working on that with area bed and breakfast owners,” Tucker said.
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Linn County had been reluctant to impose a lodging tax, even though the cities of Albany, Lebanon, Brownsville and Sweet Home had 6 percent taxes in place for years. The Fair & Expo Center — which has almost 210,000 square feet under roof — was dedicated in 1996 and has traditionally needed about $250,000 per year from the county’s general fund to balance its books.
The county tax went into effect Oct. 1, although the commissioners began talking about it in March. The statewide transient lodging tax average is 7.5 percent and the state adds another 1.8 percent on top of that. That tax will drop back to 1.5 percent in 2020.
An estimated $100,000 will be generated for the Linn County Parks & Recreation Department. It will be used to purchase new equipment, such as paddleboards or boats at Clear Lake Resort or new picnic tables as needed.
Earlier this month, Benton County commissioners approved a 3% transient lodging tax that will take effect July 1. It will affect all businesses that provide short-term stays of up to 30 days and that are open to the public more than 30 days per year.
It will apply to hotels, motels, resorts, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, cabins, lodges, RV sites, campgrounds, Airbnb properties and other short-stay accommodations.
The tax is projected to bring in close to $600,000 a year.
Like Linn County, a portion of those funds will be dedicated to improvements at the Benton County Fairgrounds.
The tax will layer on top of a 9% tax within the city of Corvallis, plus the 1.8% state tax.