- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - A new lodging tax has generated more than $100,000 for an eastern Nebraska county.

The 2 percent tax in Platte County went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. It’s collected from fees charged at hotels, motels and campgrounds throughout the county. Revenue goes into a visitor improvement fund used to enhance county attractions, according to the Columbus Telegram (https://bit.ly/1OA6Y4C ).

Several counties in Nebraska have a lodging tax, and each county can tax up to 4 percent. Through October, the latest date for which figures are available, about $105,200 had been collected in Platte County during 2015.

“Basically, it is to be used for brick-and-mortar projects. That is the main purpose of those funds,” said Deb Loseke, director of the Columbus/Platte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The money will be available for improvement projects later this year.

Funds will be distributed as grants through an application process. Loseke said her advisory committee will look over applications before awarding grants. Each benefiting project must be approved by the Platte County Board of Supervisors.

State lodging taxes, which go to the Nebraska Tourism Commission, also increased in 2015.

More than $4.6 million was collected through October from the state’s 1 percent lodging tax. That’s the highest amount through 10 months since the tax was enacted in 1980 and a nearly 9 percent increase from the previous year.

Tourism is the third-largest industry in the state. The commission is working to increase visitors to the state by touting a new slogan, “Nebraska Nice.”

“We’re really excited to see that more people are traveling and staying at the lodging accommodations across the state, enjoying Nebraska Nice and our warm hospitality,” said Kathy McKillip, executive director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission.

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Information from: Columbus Telegram, https://www.columbustelegram.com

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