Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bad Montgomery County policy/law initiative #2: exempting Lockheed Martin's conference center from hotel taxes

Two hotels in Montgomery County, Maryland: the Hyatt Regency Bethesda and the Lockheed Martin Center for Leadership Excellence.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett wants to exempt Lockheed Martin's private conference center from hotel taxes. He argues that it's a private conference center not a hotel open to the public, so it should be exempt. This is seen as an incentive for the company, to help retain their business in the County. See "MontCo executive offers Lockheed Martin $900000 tax break" from the Washington Examiner.

There are two ways to look at this issue:

1. The provision of training and the lodging associated with it.
2. When lodging is provided as part of a public accommodation or a semi-non-public one.

In short, what should be exempt, the activity (a hotel stay) or the way the activity is served (via a private conference center vs. a hotel)?

Plenty of organizations in Montgomery County hold conferences and trainings which require some people to travel to the county and stay in hotels during their stay here.

The only difference between someone going to training at Lockheed Martin is that they stay in a private facility.

Should the activity--all people coming to Montgomery County for training and staying in hotels-- be exempt from hotel taxes during their stay?

If so, then the Lockheed Martin facility should be exempt. But then so should every training-related stay in every hotel.

If the activity is determined to not be exempt from taxation, then the issue becomes what type of facilities should be exempt and what ones shouldn't.

The Lockheed Martin facility is a hotel, with a profit making purpose, just a hotel not open to the general public--but still open, by invitation only, to people not directly employed by the organization--then stays in the facility should be subject to the hotel tax.

End of story.

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