Karen Shuman from the Culver Visitor’s Center and Redevelopment Commission, Marty Oosterbaan of the Culver Redevelopment Commission, Plymouth City Attorney Sean Surrisi, and Matt Hovermale General Manager of the Swan Lake Resort appeared before the Marshall County Commissioners on Monday with concerns on the current county ordinance for the Innkeeper’s Tax. They requested a review of the current ordinance and presented a new ordinance that would be in line with the State Statute for Innkeeper’s Tax.
Shuman said, “The current membership on that board does not necessarily represent all the county and makes the decisions based on the Comprehensive Plan of the County and the recreation facilities and also in the concept of making sure that the tax dollars are fully represented in the communities that generate that tax revenue.”
The current ordinance was adopted in 1991 and created a 7-member board with three of the seats being selected by the Chamber of Commerce boards in the county which are not elected positions. Oosterbaan said, “So you essentially have private citizens appointed by non-elected officials managing tax dollars. That’s probably not ideal.” Marty told the commissioners that the tourism economy in this county has changed as well. The Innkeepers Tax generates more than $500,000 a year, a significant amount of money.
The current ordinance requires a political balance on the board and the current State Statute no longer requires that. The state now requires a majority of the board members to be engaged in the businesses of tourism, conventions, or hospitality.
The presenting committee suggested having the County Commissioners do the appointing of 4 board members, so they are assured that all parts of the county are represented and that members are involved in tourism, conventions, or hospitality. State law does require the largest municipality in the county to have the opportunity to select membership. Based on the county’s population and the creation of a 5-member board, Plymouth would have the opportunity to appoint one member.
The contingency suggested some members and presented the commissioner with some letters of interest in being appointed to the Marshall County Innkeeper’s Tax Board of Directors.
County Attorney Jim Clevenger told the commissioners the Board of Directors determines how the revenue is used in the county and by whom. State Statute allows for the county’s executive board to determine the number of members, although it must be an odd number, and how the members would be appointed.
Plymouth City Attorney Sean Surrisi said the administration is supportive of the proposed changes and liked the idea of accepting applications for the positions on the tourism board.
Matt Hovermale from Swan Lake told the commissioners over the last 8-years, Swan Lake has proved almost 25% of the Innkeepers tax that is generated in the county. He said he’s never been contacted by the current Board of Directors about any happenings. He said it seemed odd that providing that amount of revenue wouldn’t generate any conversations. He said the Swan Lake Resort was supportive of the proposed ordinance and changes.
The draft ordinance was created by Jim Clevenger many months ago when the initial disagreement was presented to the commissioners last February between the current Convention & Visitor’s Board and the now-presenting group.
The draft ordinance does require an annual report to the commissioners and after additional discussion, the commissioners added a written annual report along with quarterly reports, as county department heads are required to do.
Commissioner Stan Klotz said he agreed that elected officials should appoint the board members but he wanted to see representation from each town and let them appoint their members to the board by following the guidelines. Stan said the towns could give us recommendations and the commissioners could still do the appointments.
The County Commissioners will conduct a public hearing at one of their January meetings. They will advertise the existing draft for the public hearing and wait until an ordinance has been approved on the first reading before accepting applications from interested citizens to serve on the County Innkeepers Tax Board of Directors.
MARSHALL COUNTY ORDINANCE NO. 2023-___
AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A MARSHALL COUNTY TOURISM COMMISSION
WHEREAS, the Marshall County Commissioners have established, pursuant to Ordinance 1991-11, an Innkeepers Tax, under I.C. 6-9-18.
WHEREAS, pursuant to I.C. 6-9-18-5, the Marshall County Commissioners must create a commission to promote the development and growth of a convention, visitor and tourism industry in Marshall County if a tax is levied under I.C. 6-9-18-5.
BE IT HEREBY ORDAINED BY THE MARSHALL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, that:
1. A Tourism Commission is established, pursuant to I.C. 6-9-18-5, as amended.
2. The Tourism Commission will be controlled by a board of five (5) members known as the Marshall County Tourism Commission.
3. The members of the Marshall County Tourism Commission shall be appointed pursuant to the requirements established under I.C. 6-9-18-5, as amended.
4. Initially, the Marshall County Commissioners shall appoint four (4) members to the Marshall County Tourism Commission and the Mayor of the City of Plymouth shall appoint one (1) member.
5. The members will be appointed to two (2) year terms, with two members initially serving a one (1) year term. The initial term for the appointee of the Mayor of the City of Plymouth will expire 12.31.24. The initial term for one appointee of the Marshall County Commissioners will expire 12.31.24 and the initial term for the remaining appointees of the Marshall County Commissioners will expire 12.31.25.
6. The Tourism Commission will provide an annual written report to the Commissioners detailing revenues, expenses, results, and plans and in-person quarterly reports.
This ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage or approval according to the laws of the State of Indiana. All prior ordinances pertaining to the establishment of a Marshall County Tourism Commission shall be deemed repealed from and after the effective date of this ordinance.
All of which having been ordained by the Marshall County Commissioners this ________ day of ____________________, 2023.