January 31, 2011 | last updated May 31, 2012 3:17 pm

CT hoteliers: Put tax toward tourism

Resigned to the fact that state lawmakers will hike the hotel tax, the Connecticut Lodging Association on Monday urged lawmakers to ensure some of the tax is devoted to marketing the state to tourists.

Ten legislative proposals would increase the current 12-percent tax on hotel room rates to 15 percent via either local option or state mandate, and the proposals favor giving the money -- estimated to be $15 million to $20 million -- to the state General Fund, to local governments, or to regional efforts.

Gov. Dan Malloy has said he favors a local option tax on hotel rooms, anticipating the tax increase will be included in his budget to be released Feb. 16.

While opposed to any tax increase, lodging association officials in a legislative preview session on Monday at Hartford's Residence Inn said members must work with the legislature to ensure the hotel tax benefits hotels.

"There is strength in numbers," said President Ken Jarka, vice president of hotel operations for Mohegan Sun. "I don't think people are aware that this tax is going through."

Over the years, portions of the hotel tax have been dedicated to Connecticut tourism marketing, but those funds were reallocated to the General Fund in tough budget times.

With no dedicated funds, the state's tourism budget relies on appropriations from the General Fund. For the past two years, that allocation has been a single dollar.

With 538 hotel properties in the state, the industry could have a strong voice in shaping the hotel tax legislation, said Ginny Kozlowski, Connecticut Lodging Association executive director. The hotels just need to work jointly toward the same goal.

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