“There is a lot of revenue that is due to cities and counties because of this,” City Manager Bill Bruton said. “Somebody can come in and they could get four or five parking tickets, and if they refuse to pay then the government is left with not a whole lot of options.”
But state Rep.-elect Charles Gregory (R-Kennesaw), who defeated state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) in the Republican primary, is less than excited about the idea.
“Parking tickets are issued in excess and, more often than not, are issued with the primary motivation of fundraising rather than any actual concern for public safety,” Gregory said. “There are much more ethical and straightforward ways of generating revenue than hassling people with these fines, not to mention the net loss to taxpayers as a whole from expenses related to maintaining the bureaucracy.”
The City Council approved its legislative wish list in a 7-0 vote during its Wednesday meeting.
Other requests include sharing a database with the state Department of Revenue, clarifying the hotel-motel tax and having a permanent seat on the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The city has asked to be able to tap into the Department of Revenue’s database so it can see if businesses are reporting the same numbers to the state and to the city. While a business could be reporting its sales numbers to the state, it may not have obtained the required business license from the city. If the city had the state’s information, it would be easier to find those businesses, visit them, and make sure they get their licenses, Bruton said.
“There have been studies in Alabama and some other states where they have gone in and done this where they tied in the data and they found that both the state and the local governments where losing revenue that they were owed,” Bruton said. “There’s ways to make it all work, but the state in the past has just not been willing to do it.”
As for streamlining the hotel-motel tax provisions, Bruton said there is currently a question over who pays the hotel-motel tax. An online marketer such as Expedia.com may buy a group of hotel rooms at a discounted rate and then sell them at a profit. Bruton said the city’s position has been that the tax should be based on the higher room rate paid by the consumer
“There have been some lawsuits that other cities have done in Georgia trying to cure that and make it so that the governments do get the tax based on the actual sale price in the room and here recently they have been successful, but it still needs to work its way through the court system,” Bruton said.
Bruton said there are also some current restrictions that make it difficult to use the hotel/motel funds for direct tourism or economic development projects or promotions that would bring additional tourist dollars to the local economy.
“We cannot give some of the dollars to a nonprofit for an event that would bring in a lot of tourists or to that same group for marketing the event,” he said.