Hotel and motel guests will pay slightly more to spend the night in Roswell starting Nov. 1, City Councilors voted Thursday.
The passage of a new Convention Center Fee, which will cost lodgers an extra $2.50 a night, is expected to raise an estimated $500,000 to help pay for a remodeled or new convention center in the future.
However, the city has yet to draw plans for the new building.
The fee generated opposition from the Roswell Hospitality Association, but several councilors stood by their decision to impose the fee.
Monica Gomez, director of sales at Holiday Inn Express, spoke for the Roswell Hospitality Association.
“I still have concerns with the whole marketing aspect and what is being booked now,” Gomez said. “There has to be a plan in place and it has to be a collaborative effort as a community.”
The existing convention center is already booked with a wedding during next year’s UFO Festival, for instance.
Gomez suggested to councilors that if the city lowered the Lodgers Tax, which is at its maximum 5 percent, the $2.50 would be more reasonable.
The Lodgers Tax collects some $900,000 in revenue for the city, Councilor Jimmy Craig estimated.
Councilor Jason Perry said he was passionate about building a better facility.
“We are in a great area here in Roswell,” Perry said. “We have lost conventions to Lubbock, Texas, because of our facility.
“Not only did Roswell lose out, the entire state of New Mexico lost out. I just hate to see something like this slip through our fingers.”
After hearing from the Association, councilors amended the ordinance, moving the start date to Nov. 1. The new date gives lodging facilities three months to adjust their fee systems.
Councilor Steve Henderson said that although the city does not have set plans for a remodeled convention center, the fee would generate a down payment.
“It appears to me, we know about what we’d like to do,” Henderson said. “We need a financing plan to make it work. In the meantime, we have a down payment.”
Councilors talked about putting an addition on the existing convention center by building a new facility in the parking area and using the old building for break-out rooms.
Following the vote, Carrie Milstead, of the Hampton Inn, said she was concerned that business travelers who stay in Roswell because of the lower cost of lodging will choose to drive closer to where they’re working.
“We have guests who stop here because it’s cheaper,” Milstead said. “If our rates are raised, they would rather go stay closer to where they’re going.”