Commissioners examine transitional tax in Charleston

October 28 — Coos County Commissioners took the first step towards imposing a 9.5% rate on temporary housing in Charleston.

Commissioners met on Tuesday and heard the first reading of a pair of ordinances that would send a question to voters on whether to introduce the new tax. The second reading is scheduled for November 2 and voters could vote in the May 2022 election.

The tax would be added to bills for short-term rentals such as hotels, motels, and even apartment rentals such as AirBnb as long as the rentals are less than 30 days.

According to the ordinance considered by the commissioners, the idea of ​​a tax on short-term rentals has been raised for the benefit of tourism in the Charleston area. Charleston is unique in that it is outside of all incorporated cities and therefore does not have a convention and visitors bureau or other travel agency designed to market it directly.

If approved by voters, at least 70% of all taxes collected will be used to promote tourism in the Charleston area.

The remaining funds would be used for code enforcement, solid waste disposal and administrative costs for the county.

While the tax would be charged for motels, hotels and other rentals under 30 days, the ordinance specifically exempts rentals for healthcare facilities, drug or alcohol treatment facilities, government agencies and non-profit organizations.

The ordinance specifies that Charleston has unique features such as the “rugged coast of Cape Arago” and the “calm pools of South Slough” that make it a destination for tourists.

If the tax is approved, it would be used to market the area to tourists, market events in the area, and potentially open or hire an existing agency to serve as a tourism agency for Charleston.

Commissioners will hear second reading of the order and accept comments from the public at its November 2 meeting.

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