The Casa Grande City Council took a big step Monday toward implementing Mayor Craig McFarland’s longstanding idea of setting up a marketing office in conjunction with the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce. The plan, heard by the council but not acted on yet, involves raising the city hotel tax by 3% to a total of 5% to pay for operation of the office and national advertising to better “sell” the city to potential tourists and businesses. That could be a big benefit.
McFarland, who is completing his second term in office this year, long has touted the plan. Apparently the council has been reluctant to adopt it without unanimous agreement by the hotels in town, which is nearly complete now. The marketing organization would have a board including hotel and business representation to oversee it. The hotels clearly would benefit.
Many people obviously are finding Casa Grande as it is, but there certainly is more potential. Tourism is an important industry that funds many jobs, services and amenities that year-round residents enjoy all the time. More good jobs is something that always is attractive.
When people travel for business or pleasure, they are accustomed to paying taxes on hotel rooms just about everywhere. And that means that a 5% hotel tax would not be unusual or offensive to visitors. It would not affect most winter residents either.
Years ago there was a “bed and booth” tax that also included restaurants, but a public outcry caused it to be removed. That one supported marketing for the city, but it affected all residents and, restaurant owners said, was bad for business. The argument was strong.
Meanwhile, the bed tax has continued to support youth activities, especially Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley. That would continue with the first 2% under the new proposal.
Mayor McFarland, who came from a marketing background before retirement allowed him to devote his energy to the city, has worked hard on developing and selling his proposal, which makes much sense. The city should adopt it.