Kintigh convention center bill dies

February 23, 2011 • Local News

A bill that local officials say would put the city of Roswell and its convention center on a level playing field with other municipalities in the state, failed [auth] to make its way out of a House committee on Tuesday.

City officials say they are disappointed that Rep. Dennis Kintigh’s, RRoswell, bill failed to make it out of the House Health and Government Af fairs Committee following a 2-5 vote. The legislation would allow the city to expand the Roswell Convention and Civic Center through an additional lodging tax of up to $2.50 per hotel night stay, an ability already bestowed on certain New Mexico municipalities.

“I’m very disappointed that some legislators don’t want to let all municipalities have the equal right to have a better convention center,” said city Councilor Jason Perry, chairman of the city’s Building and Lands Committee. Perry, who said he planned to drive to Santa Fe Tuesday night to see if any progress could be made today in advancing the legislation, said the additional funds would allow Roswell to expand its convention center.

The expansion is needed in order to draw certain people and events to the facility, he said. “The (newer) Republicans perceived it as a tax increase and they’re opposed to it,” said Kintigh, following the vote. “I respect that and understand it, (but) I look upon the bill as a local option — each community decides whether they want to do.” Kintigh said that if the bill were passed into law, it would give Roswell officials the option whether to impose the tax.

The bill’s passage wouldn’t necessarily mean a tax increase. “It’s imposed in certain communities already in New Mexico. “It’s just, what the current law does, is it restricts which communities can do this,” he said.

“Some communities are already doing it and this would have allowed other communities to have the option that some communities enjoy already, but (now), we don’t have that option.” Currently, the law permits areas in the state with a population of more than 70,000 and less than 100,000 people impose the additional tax in that particular community.

“It would give the city an opportunity to impose a $2.50 nightly fee on top of the 5 percent (lodger’s tax),” said City Manager Larry Fry, who said similar fees are already in place in Santa Fe and Las Cruces. Despite the setback, Perry said he planned to visit with officials at the Roundhouse to see if there’s a way to push the legislation further.

Kintigh’s bill has the support of local officials, who say the current system gives larger cities a monopoly on attracting people and events to select convention centers.

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