First Posted: 6/17/2009
Finally, the General Assembly has approved Surry Countys request for an occupancy tax in unincorporated areas of the county.
Taxes are rarely welcome, but it was never clear why this tax took so long to win legislator approval.
The 6-percent levy on overnight stays at hotels, inns and other for-profit lodging facilities will generate money that goes directly into tourism efforts and marketing to bring even more people into the county.
The tax will not affect local residents, only visitors coming to the county and staying overnight.
Mount Airy, Dobson, and the other incorporated towns in Surry County already had the tax in place, and the county board of commissioners requested approval of the General Assembly before the legislators went into session in 2008.
That was a short session of the Assembly, and rules in such sessions require support from all legislators in a region. Sen. Don East, generally the anti-tax champion, took his stance to extremes and would not support the measure, thus it died in 2008.
Thankfully, the long session of 2009 makes it much easier to introduce bills, and with the local governments blessing, the General Assembly gave its approval to the measure two days ago, when the Senate approved its version of the House bill calling for the tax.
Now, as soon as Gov. Bev Perdue signs the bill into law, local officials working to bring tourist to the region will be better funded in their efforts.
We only question why did it take this long.