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Consider the Impact

By David Johnson

Story Published: Jun 11, 2015

Story Updated: Jun 11, 2015

A new fee has some in the hotel industry up in arms.

The $5 per night fee is included in the new transportation bill set to go into effect July 1st.

It requires guests at extended stay hotels to pay the additional fee for the first 30 days of their stay. The fee is in addition to the 7% in taxes hotels currently pay locally and to the state.

Liberty Inn Hotel owner Gerald McPhail said it will have a devastating impact on his business as well as his guests.

“We have a lot of people here who have to go a week at a time, two weeks at a time, sometimes their money is short and they miss a day until they go and get money and come back. So they end up paying this, basically additional 20% tax, for their room stay. It’s just really going to hit my guests hard,” McPhail said.

Hotel guest Shelia Williame agrees.

“It’s going to make a real bad impact. I work at Waffle House and I have four kids that I have to take care of. So $5 extra coming out my pocket, that’s going to be a lot,” Williame said.

Jessica Simmons and her young daughter have lived at the Liberty Inn for eight months. But on July 1st, she said she may no longer afford to live there.

"My money ain't nothing but $773. $5 dollars extra, I'll be paying $600," Simmons said.

McPhail said a better solution is to charge a fee based on percentage.

“Having a flat fee hurts those in the economy or lower level much harder than the luxury hotels.”

He thinks lawmakers should redefine what extended stay is.

“And decrease that number from the current 30 days, is what you have in the rules, down to 10.”

McPhail hopes lawmakers will consider making a change before the law takes effect July 1st.

“We need to think about the poor, those who are at the edge. And when we pass laws, the impact it's going to have on the least of us needs to be considered,” McPhail said.

“I gotta buy per pampers, her clothes, her shoes. And if my food stamps don't get here on time, I gotta buy food. And that $5 extra, it's going to hurt,” Simmons said.

The new fee is expected to raise an additional $150 – 200MIL for the state.

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