Specht: Why do we need to support the hotel/motel tax?

2023

More than 120,000 people flocked to Barksdale Air Force Base this past weekend for the 2015 Defenders of Liberty Air Show. The air show has become a staple of Spring in the Bossier-Shreveport area, and Barksdale has been a huge asset to our country and community.

With the recent upgrade of Global Strike Command to a 4-Star General Major Command, things really seem solid for Barksdale. But, in the world of politics and government, nothing is ever solid.

As a 4-star command, Global Strike personnel need easy air travel to Washington, D.C. With meetings on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon now a part of Barksdale’s regular life, direct air service to our nation’s capital is a must.

Unfortunately, commercial air carriers won’t add such a flight without some form of monetary incentive. House Bill 216 by Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, aims to help rectify that situation.

DavemugThe bill would levy a 1.5-cent tax on those who stay in hotels and motels in the Shreveport-Bossier area. One-half a cent of the tax would be dedicated to the Ark-La-Tex Regional Air Alliance, which would be used to incentivize air carriers and air routes to and from Shreveport Regional Airport.

The other two-thirds of the tax would be split between the Independence Bowl Foundation and the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

The tax is subject to the approval or voters in Bossier and Caddo Parishes.

HB216 passed unanimously out of the Louisiana House of Representatives and is headed to the Louisiana Senate.

Isn’t this the same tax voters in Bossier Parish defeated last year? Haven’t they already made the position known? The answer isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Post-election reviews showed many voters misunderstood the tax, thinking it was a tax to support hotels and motels, while others had no interest in what was dubbed “The Independence Bowl Tax.”

Even with such confusion, voters in Caddo Parish passed last year’s measure.

A case can be made for each entity that would receive proceeds from this tax, if passed. However, as Bossier Parish’s number one employer, we need to look no further than Barksdale Air Force Base. We need to do all we can to protect the viability of the base, both now and for years to come.

The first order of business is to make sure the bill makes it out of the Senate. There are two senators representing Bossier Parish:

Senator Robert Adley (R)

611 Jessie Jones Drive Benton, LA 71006

(318) 965-1755

E-mail Address: adleyr@legis.la.gov

Senator Barrow Peacock

1619 Jimmie Davis Highway Bossier City, LA 71112

(318) 741-7180

E-mail Address: peacockb@legis.la.gov

Once on the ballot, it is important the people of Caddo and Bossier Parishes understand the totality of the proposition. This is too important for a lack of information to defeat it again. The future of Barksdale may very well hang in the balance.

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

[Ed.’s note: First appeared on bizmagsb.com]