After room tax change, Bend City Council deciding on $2 million for tourism

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At Wednesday night’s Bend City council meeting, councilors discussed adjusting the percentage of room tax revenue in Bend.

The room tax is for hotel and motel type stays, and a portion of the that’s required by state law must go toward tourism promotion.

In 2017, City Council believed they could legally reduce the rate going to tourism promotions from 35.4% to 31.2%, but after legal challenges, the City now has to bring that percentage back to 35.4%.

“We are just kind of doing the leg work now to kind of fix some of the things that we did in 2017,” Business Advocate for the City of Bend Ben Hemson said.

The City did not use they money from 2017 — they decided to save it.

“As someone told me recently… it’s not often you lose a legal case, and actually end up with around $2 million in the end, but in this case, we did,” Hemson said.

A subcommittee of councilors will meet at the end of November to figure out how to use that $2 million.

It could be used on things such as a convention center, upgrading trail systems, a performance arts center, or anything tourist and residents use that could be considered tourism-related.

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