St. Catharines Hotel Resort Tax due Jan. 1

St. Catharines City Council pushed back the start date of an overnight lodging tax to Jan. 1 after local hoteliers raised concerns.

The Municipal Lodging Tax, or MAT, is a 4% room tax that will be charged to guests staying in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and short-term rentals. The money, estimated at $1 million a year for the city, will be used to support tourism initiatives.

It was passed by the board on May 30 and was to be implemented on August 1, before the Canada Summer Games.

But in a letter to council, the operators of seven hotels in the city said it would be difficult to meet the start date.

“There are many supply and logistics chains that go into setting up the fee,” they wrote.

“In order for us to collect, we must inform customers and partners that our systems have also been updated to reflect this new 4% surcharge. We need time to communicate with all our partners and update their websites.

This includes the time it takes for booking engines such as Expedia, Priceline and others to update their sites to include the MAT tax for St. Catharines listings. The letter stated that these sites are huge companies and that hotels have struggled in the past to get something as simple as an incorrect image removed.

They said they also had to update their own franchise websites, which would come at a “considerable” cost.

Additionally, they said they had already booked groups at hotels prior to the MAT announcement and that trying to collect a fee above the agreed-upon price could lead to problems with small claims courts or “goodwill.” negative” towards hotels, which depend on repeated businesses.

“We are confident that we can ensure all of these things are supported and a successful launch if we go live on January 1, 2023,” they wrote.

“Please help us make this launch a success. We have struggled to staff our hotels and trying to navigate through this during our busiest time is going to be stressful.

Hoteliers said they were disappointed the council introduced a 4% tax, which was higher than a $2 flat rate they supported, but still agreed to collect the MAT.

The letter, included in the Monday evening board meeting package, was signed by the operators of Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Best Western, Canada’s Best Value Inn, Capri Inn and Stonemill Inn. .

St. Patrick’s County. Karrie Porter presented a reconsideration motion to the board in response to the hoteliers’ letter to change the start date. She requested that it be moved from August 1 to October 1.

Porter said that would be a reasonable amount of time to allow hotels to get through peak season and allow the city to start collecting.

“This is a really important initiative that’s going to help us raise some money so property tax money isn’t used to secure the huge sporting events that we’re trying to bring to this area to fill the hotels, which was the case.

Porter said it would also mean the tax would be in place before the Oct. 24 municipal election so it would not be used as a campaign stake.

But other advisers worried that this would not give hoteliers enough time and backed starting on January 1.

“In my opinion, starting a new calendar year gives all hotels a chance to implement all of their software and let everyone know what they are about to do,” St. Andrew’s Coun said. Matt Harris.

Fellow Ward Con. Joe Kushner agreed, saying hoteliers have been going through a very difficult time with COVID-19.

“There is no reason to worry about this because it is an election year. I think we have to do what is right.

But Merritton County. Lori Littleton said Porter’s concerns about this becoming an election issue were well founded and added that MAT is a valid tax that will create more incentives for tourism partners.

“All the arguments that the tourism industry has been hurt, hoteliers have been hurt, are valid, but this is going to help them.”

The Board rejected the Oct. 1 start date 9-4 and instead voted in favor of a Jan. 1 start date 8-5, which Port Dalhousie Carlos Garcia proposed.

how they voted

MAT implementation for October 1, 2022

Yes: Littleton, Porter, McPherson, Sendzik

No: Sorrento, Miller, Kushner, Garcia, Dodge, Harris, Phillips, Townsend, Williamson

-Defeated

MAT implementation for January 1, 2023

Yes: Dodge, Garcia, Harris, Kushner, Phillips, Sorrento, Williamson, Sendzik

No: Littleton, McPherson, Miller, Porter, Townsend

Kasandra J. Stone