Hilton Head mayor proposes lodging tax

Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin on Wednesday proposed seeking authority from the state legislature to raise the local accommodations tax level.

Speaking before about 700 business leaders at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce's State of the Region breakfast, Laughlin said Myrtle Beach outspends Hilton Head Island's marketing efforts by a 12-1 ratio. Laughlin also wants a dialogue on funding for the island's arts initiatives, which he believes are struggling to stay afloat. Although he stopped short of proposing public funds for these initiatives, he suggested they might not make it otherwise.

Proceeds from a higher tax would fund new marketing intended to draw more visitors to the island. Laughlin says the overall tax on lodging is below the national average, and he wants Town Council to have the authority to raise the local accommodations tax beyond the 3-percent cap. Raising the tax by 2 cents on the dollar would bring it more in line with the national average, he said.

For more, come back to islandpacket.com later tonight.