The Johnson County Council rejected a 5 percent hotel tax Monday night on a 3-4 vote.
Council members who voted “no” to the proposal expressed concerns over how the money collected, an estimated $680,000 a year, would be spent.
“What I’ve gotten asked for is a tax,” council member Jim Eckart said after the vote. “I haven’t been given a vision.”
Eckart, John Myers, Beth Boyce and Brian Walker voted against the tax. Pete Ketchum, Loren Snyder and Anita Knowles voted in favor.
Knowles believes “this is an economic development tool that the county will benefit from.”
In the nine-county metropolitan area, only Johnson County does not have the so-called innkeeper’s tax, to market the county and promote tourism.
“There are so many citizens who would like to see this happen,” business owner Erin Smith told the council.
About 45 people were in the gallery at Monday’s council meeting. On Monday and at two prior meetings, dozens of residents expressed support for the tax.
Hotel and bed-and-breakfast owners have openly opposed the tax, which would be paid by their guests but would not necessarily help fill their rooms.
Council member Walker said the county needs money, he said, but this proposal leaves too many questions unanswered.
“I just feel like there is a better way (than) implementing a tax without a framework and knowing how it works,” Walker said.
Boyce, the council president, left the door open to reconsidering the proposal. She agreed to form a committee to further study the hotel tax.