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If voters approve on May 4, 2019, Love Civic Center in Paris will be on track to get $1.5 million in updates thanks to an increase in the hotel occupancy tax.

“The LCC has been in heavy need of updating their facilities for years,” said Jokyle Varner, owner of Heritage Hall. “For that facility to get up to par with surrounding centers of a similar kind, it needs a significant overhaul. Any building with that age will need updating just like a house needs updating. There are a number of events that happen there annually. However, I believe even more events would happen if the facility was in better shape. It would attract more conferences and out of town clients and guests.”

Love Civic Center was built in 1993 and, according to many officials in Paris, is in need of major renovations. The Love Civic Center Board, a sub-component of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, is charged with oversight and management of the center.

In 2017, this board contracted with WRA Architects to study the facility and help develop a long-range improvement and capital maintenance plan. Probable costs for all of the things that were looked at and identified totaled approximately $3 million. Since then, the board has looked at a smaller figure, but current revenues will be insufficient to fund many of the needs.

To resolve this issue, board members of the LCC proposed a 2-cent increase to the hotel occupancy tax to pay for $1.5 million in renovations to the civic center.

Some of the renovations include new bathrooms, flooring, lighting, sound, roofing and paint, both inside and outside, as well as improvements to the HVAC system.

The increase is set to bring in just under $200,000 a year based on the 2017-18 tax collections. It is important to note the hotel occupancy tax is a tax on the rental of rooms that the city, county, state or country may require; it is generally owed on the price of accommodations or any additional fees like cleanings or extra guests. An occupancy tax can also be referred to as a lodging tax, a room tax, a sales tax, a tourist tax, or a hotel tax. 

None of the money comes from local taxpayers’ pockets.

That is, the average taxpayer who doesn’t stay in a hotel will not see an increase in their taxes. Furthermore, the HOT cannot be used for things such as repairs to roads or increasing the pay for first responders. 

“It can only be used to get more heads in more beds at our hotels,” said Paul Allen, chamber president.

Watch the proposal being discussed by officials this morning below.