A recent email from the Bossier Chamber of Commerce says it all:

David Specht, President of Specht Newspapers, Inc.

“Northwest Louisiana is poised for growth and on November 21, voters can get behind the momentum in  support of the Hotel Occupancy Proposition.  The Hotel Occupancy Proposition is a $1.10 per night tax paid for by overnight guests ONLY. It will result in approximately 31 million per year in economic impact, and will provide 1.7 million per year to the RASA (Regional Air Service Alliance), Independence Bowl Foundation and the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission (SBSC).  Sharing the proceeds of the tax equally among three organizations (SBSC, Independence Bowl Foundation, RASA) will fund economic development in all facets of business within Bossier and Caddo Parishes.

“The Independence Bowl Foundation has a 40-year history of bringing our community one of the largest sporting events in Northwest Louisiana annually along with fifteen other sporting events which take place throughout both Bossier and Caddo Parishes.  

“The Regional Air Service Alliance plans to apply the tax proceeds collected from visitors to market to and negotiate with airlines to add direct flights to Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Chicago.  These flights will provide national businesses, Barksdale Air Force Base, and military personnel direct access to the Shreveport-Bossier area.”

There are those who would like you to think there is some clandestine agenda associated with this proposal — that somehow it isn’t as straightforward as presented.

They are wrong.

Anyone who knows me, know that I am as “anti-tax” as they come. I prefer free-market solutions. However, in the realm of the entities involved in this proposal, that is not how the game is played. It takes incentives to make things happen, and as much as we don’t like it, that is just the way it is.

This is a small price to pay to continue the growth and progress we have experienced over the past 25 years. And, while I am not a fan of the “let the visitors pay” concept, it does soften the blow. Plus, our hotels and motels will still have lower per-night rates than other cities our size, and certainly lower than many cities in Louisiana.

As I have said in this space before, the major reason for a similar proposition’s failure a year ago was a lack of information in the public about what the proposition would cost, who would pay it, and what it is expected to accomplish. That simply isn’t the case this time.

The proponents of this proposition have done their due diligence to explain the need, the source and the use of the funds to be generated. From public meetings, to press conferences, to advertisements and opinion columns, this proposition has been thoroughly explained. Anyone who believes the contrary simply hasn’t been paying attention.

The choice is clear. The Hotel Occupancy Proposition makes sense for Shreveport, Bossier, Barksdale and all of northwest Louisiana. Vote Yes on Saturday.

David Specht is President of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He can be reached at dspecht@bizmagsb.com

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