Proposed rental tax voted down
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
November 17, 2012 12:05 AM | 1689 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — In a 5-1 vote, the Canton City Council shut down a long-discussed rental car tax proposal at Thursday night’s meeting.

Council Member Bill Bryan motioned to reject Mayor Gene Hobgood’s proposal to collect a 3 percent excise tax on car rentals within the city. The motion to reject passed in a 5-1 vote with Council member Glenn Cummins dissenting.

The car rental tax, similar to a hotel/motel tax, had been proposed as a means of funding rental assistance for small businesses interested in opening downtown.

Canton Main Street director Ginger Garrard proposed the idea for the tax to the city council in February. The council discussed it several times during the spring, but Thursday night was the first and only vote on whether to enact the tax.

Angie Wiggins of Enterprise Rent-A-Car spoke against the proposal during the meeting’s public comment time.

“We pay our managers based on our profits. Some of this will be passed onto customers, and some of it we will have to absorb,” she said.

Wiggins added that the tax would affect local citizens and businesses that use car rental services.

Canton resident Daniel Shilling said he uses Enterprise and he didn’t want to see the city putting a tax burden largely on one business. Two other businesses with car rental services are located inside Canton city limits, but Enterprise represents the largest share of car rentals in the city.

Shilling suggested the city look at alternate funding for downtown improvements, such as a beverage tax.

Cummins said the tax, based on usage, would be a smart way to fund the Main Street program.

“It is a pass-through tax. It does not affect the base car rental price,” Cummins said. “We’ve agreed that we want to move forward with Main Street development. This is an excellent way of obtaining funds.”

Hobgood said before the vote was taken that rejecting the excise tax would be a “slap in the face” to the boards of the Downtown Development Authority, Canton Tourism and Main Street.

Canton Main Street Director Ginger Garrard said Friday that several downtown projects will be put on hold until the city can find another way of providing more money for Main Street.

“We had a lot of programs that we wanted to use this money for. Not just rental assistance, but for helping downtown,” she said.

Garrard maintains that the car rental tax is a pass-through tax that would not affect companies’ profits.

“The Main Street board and I are very, very disappointed in council’s decision to vote the rental car tax down,” she said.

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Old Joe
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November 19, 2012
Once again, the Canton City Council has disregarded a legitimate and fair opportunity to fund Main Street programs. This time, they acted to protect a giant corporation at the cost of local citizens. The Council is showing no interest in funding programs to stimulate economic development, especially in downtown. They are even taking away the program from the Mayors office, so goodbye to First Fridays, Farmers Markets, Taste of Canton and other well meaning activities for Canton citizens. And shame on Enterprise for making such a huge deal out of a pass-through tax that would not impact their bottom line one cent. They need some competition in town, and I, for one, will never rent from them again. From what I hear, the Enterprise in Woodstock is much cheaper, and they are subjected to the excise tax!
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