Municipalities across Wisconsin could face new standards for how they spend hotel room tax money. A state law enacted in 1994 requires communities to put 70 percent of the dollars collected through that tax towards promoting tourism, while allowing 30 percent to go towards other uses. But, the measure didn't apply to already existing room taxes. As a result, State Representative Terry Van Akkeren (D-Sheboygan) says some communities put almost all of the money towards tourism, while some don't have to direct any money towards that purpose.
Van Akkeren is introducing legislation that would end those old agreements, putting all municipalities under the same restrictions for how they distribute the tax money. However, there are concerns because many communities rely on those dollars to fill holes in their budget. Van Akkeren says they've had 12 years to adjust to the possibility of a standard 70-30 split, although he would be willing to consider an amendment to phase in the new distribution.