- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Portland government agencies are pushing against a proposal to double Oregon’s lodging tax in preparation for the 2021 world track and field championships in Eugene.

Officials with Travel Portland, the city of Portland and Metro, the Portland area regional government, say they don’t oppose the $25 million state subsidy for the track event that the tax is tied to, but instead they worry the increase is too large, The Register-Guard reported (https://is.gd/OG6BGA).

The proposal would double the state lodging tax to 2 percent from 1 percent. The agencies say local lodging taxes already total 13.5 percent in Portland, the highest in the state.

Randy Tucker, a lobbyist for Metro, told lawmakers at a hearing this week that the proposal would put Portland at a disadvantage when competing with other big national cities to host conventions in the short term. In the long term, the increased state tax would cripple the city’s ability to increase local lodging taxes to pay for tourism improvements.

“Portland does have its own tourism infrastructure and event needs, just like Hayward Field and the track event,” said Jeff Miller, CEO of Travel Portland.

A 2015 industry survey found that Portland ranked 43rd among U.S. cities in combined lodging taxes. If the lodging tax increased to 2 percent, Portland would jump to 25th naturally.

Eugene-based TrackTown USA will host the championships in 2021 at Hayward Field. Because event expenses will outpace ticket sales and other revenue, TrackTown head Vin Lananna, a University of Oregon athletics executive, is seeking government subsidies, including from the proposed hotel tax increase.

Under the current proposal, House Bill 4146, Travel Oregon’s governing board would make the final call on the TrackTown subsidy. Funds from the increased lodging tax would not be earmarked for the track championship.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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