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Trickle Down Theory Vision For Transient Occupancy Tax

At the Springfield Hilton, rooms that go for $144 per night during the week will go up by $2.80 if the county-wide proposal goes through to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax an additional two percent. In return, Fairfax County will provide adequate funding for their Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), which promotes tourism and business in the county. Proponents hope that the extra money will trickle down through the county's economic engine.

At least, that's how Barry Brady, Springfield Hilton general manager, sees it. He backs the increase along with the rest of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

"It's good for business-to-business [commerce], it's a domino effect," Brady said. "I don't think we are going to notice it."

Currently, the TOT is at 6.5 percent with 4.5 percent of that going for sales tax and 2 percent going to the county. The proposal of an additional two percent, which the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce voted in favor of at its Dec. 10 meeting, would amount to an additional $7 million a year, said Tony Howard, the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce communications director. At that rate, $2 million would go toward the CVB, which currently gets $450,000 a year.

"That's not nearly enough money to promote the hotel industry in a county of this size," Howard said.

To implement this tax, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority will write the proposal, following a law already on the books that allows certain local jurisdictions to raise a local tax. Then it will go before the Board of Supervisors in early January before the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond later that month. They will find a delegate to submit the bill.

"They [Board of Supervisors] have not formally adopted this approach but will address it in January," Howard said, however it is not contingent on a board approval.

Nancy Reed, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce lobbyist, will accompany the bill down to Richmond and push for it.

Comparable to other jurisdictions in the area, the CVB in Fairfax County receives the lowest amount of money.

"Loudoun County, with a third of our [hotel] rooms, spends 10 times that much. I was supportive of this 10 years ago," when it was proposed before, "and I'm supportive of it now," said Brady.

According to information released by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Fairfax County spends 2 percent on its tourism marketing budgets while Alexandria, Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun Counties all spend at least 5 percent.

Springfield Chamber president Tammy Shapiro thinks the business travelers and tourists will not notice it on their hotel bill. Shapiro compared it with the tax in New York City, which she called a "significant difference."

"I think people expect it now when they travel," she said.