Short-term lodging tax would benefit Charleston economy

Coos County voters will have an opportunity to help the Charleston area economy thrive through increased tourism promotion and support.

Ballot Measure 6-194 would authorize a Charleston Area tax on short-term lodging. The 9.5-percent lodging tax would be assessed to those staying in hotels and motels, vacation rentals, campgrounds, and RV parks in the Charleston area – defined by ordinance as the communities of Barview and Charleston, the lands adjacent to the South Slough estuary, and the Pacific coastline to Cape Arago.

The lodging tax percentage will be the same as that collected by neighboring Coos Bay and North Bend, so none of those businesses will be at a disadvantage compared to lodging establishments in city limits. The tax would not be implemented in any other part of the county and is being championed by the Charleston Merchants Association, which speaks for Charleston area businesses.

“We think we have actually been at a disadvantage because of not having this lodging tax,” said Tim Hyatt, of the Charleston Merchants Association. “We can use these funds to promote our community the way that Coos Bay and North Bend are able to promote themselves through the Visitors and Conventions Bureau. We want to have a place at the table and marketing along with the rest of the Bay Area community.”

The vast majority of the proposed tax funds – 70 percent – will be spent on promoting the Charleston area statewide and nationally for tourism visits and conferences, similar to how other Bay Area communities are marketed, as well as other tourism-related facilities in the Charleston community. That includes funding for a new visitor information center in Charleston that can serve as a more inviting welcoming point for visitors as well as a potential community gathering place for events and meetings.

The remaining 30 percent of the funds collected would be dedicated to public safety for the Charleston area and a voluntary countywide program to remove and dispose of abandoned mobile homes, junk vehicles, and other unsightly or unsanitary waste.

The measure will appear before Coos County voters on the May 2022 ballot.