LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) – Lawton citizens are headed to the polls next Tuesday to vote on a Hotel and Transient Guest tax increase.
If citizens vote yes on Feb. 9, it would raise the current tax in place from 5.5 to 7 percent.
Community advocate Alberto Francesco Rivas said the tax increases the quality of life for Lawtonians.
“The cool thing about this tax is that it’s not paid by the citizens of Lawton as long as they show a valid driver’s license with address or water bill, that tax is removed from any type of hotel stay within our city, but it is paid by the visitors that are coming in to Lawton-Fort Sill,” he said.
Lawton City Councilman Jay Burk said the city’s depended on the hotel/motel tax for several years. It brings in about $1 million on average yearly. He said hotels in Lawton, such as the Hilton, are completely in favor of the tax.
“It helps so many different things,” he said. “It’s just amazing the different organizations and different events that Lawtonians get to be a part of as well, not just those people coming to town.”
Burk said the council can’t reallocate that money, but they can vote to change the percentages that each organization gets based on need.
Organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra, Lawton Community Theatre, Farmer’s Market and Holiday in the Park stand to benefit from the proposed tax.
“They’re the ones that drive tourism and economic development and bringing people into our community to enjoy the Southwest Oklahoma lifestyle, the feel,” he said. “That’s why we’re called the pride of the Southwest.”
Local arts organizations are hoping people will get out and show their support. The Managing Director of Lawton Community Theatre Chance Harmon said that money goes to provide acting camps and advertising for the theatre.
“For this tax to go to zero would certainly be devastating to a lot of organizations that are so important to our community,” he said. “I mean, you think about Lawton Community Theatre and the Philharmonic, and the Freedom Festival, it brings a quality of life in Southwest Oklahoma like no other.”
You can tune in for a live forum with local leaders about the tax from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Feb. 4 on the Lawton Proud Facebook page.
To learn more about the vote, you can visit https://lawtonproud.com/.
In-person absentee voting is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 4-5 at the Comanche County Courthouse. Voters will need to wear a mask and enter through the west doors.
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