Lawmaker hopes hotel tax could help fund Kalamazoo arena

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill that would allow Kalamazoo County to impose a hotel tax has been approved by the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 4816, also known as the Regional Event Center Financing Act, passed 80-26 Thursday. The measure now goes to a Senate committee for consideration.

Bill sponsor Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, explained that it would allow the Kalamazoo County Commission to levy a hotel or lodging tax up to 4% on top of a room rate. Larger cities can already impose such a tax, but the bill would open it up to smaller cities.

If the bill becomes law and the county then institutes the tax, it could help pay to build an arena in downtown Kalamazoo — though the revenue from the tax would not cover the entire project. Public officials would have to turn to a private partnership to foot the bill.

“This is an important measure to help Kalamazoo County and other locations in Michigan continue to build on the state’s economic momentum,” Iden said in a statement. “Conventions, concerts, and other special events are a key part of tourism and bringing people to downtown areas. Some other counties in Michigan already have tools available to fund the centers needed to host these events. This legislation simply gives municipalities the same opportunity for development that other communities in Michigan already have.”