We want to address the proposed 3 percent hotel tax for Farragut that was approved 4 to 1 on first reading by the Board of Aldermen this week. As an industry of hoteliers, we are all for growing tourism in our great Town, and as experts in the field we know this additional tax burden on our hotels and guests is not the answer.
Farragut hotels are currently situated in a unique setting where the current tax structure allows our nine small hotels to enjoy a distinct advantage over our neighboring hotels in Knoxville. Farragut hotels currently collect a total tax of 14.25 percent, which is 3 percent lower than the City of Knoxville. This is a huge advantage and is, quite frankly, needed in order to compete with newer hotels that are located closer to the main demand generators bringing travel to our area. While you may think travelers don’t look at tax rates, they absolutely do. In today’s environment, it is easier than ever to compare, as websites quote prices in terms of total spend for the guest.
This is a great time to be in Farragut! Our new community center and several upcoming development projects are sure to make 2020, the 40th anniversary of our incorporation, a year to remember. With these things in mind, I need to respond to some of the issues brought up in the Letter to the Editor from our hoteliers regarding the Town’s proposed hotel tax.
• Tourism requires a dedicated funding source. While our FY2020 budget shows a surplus, those funds are slated for specific capital items. The Town will need $30 million in road improvements over the next 20 years, and we are in the process of researching needed repairs to our aging stormwater infrastructure. We don’t know yet what the cost for repairs will be. Having extra room in our budget is what allows us to address infrastructure costs without borrowing money or instituting a property tax, and I think Farragut residents appreciate this.
Forty years ago our Founders set up our little Town against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It was not too novel an idea for those times: a small, agile, accountable, pay-as-you-go government run by the people.
It was, whether intentionally or inadvertently, modeled after what Alexis de Tocqueville described in 1835 as the genius of America. It has succeeded perhaps beyond our founders’ fondest hopes, and today enjoys an enviable quality of life.
We have better roads, sidewalks, parks and amenities, traffic management, street lights, schools and public safety, less crime, a more pleasing aesthetic and much more because of their vision.
I have lived here most of Farragut’s 40 years, have known all of its mayors and I have served in Town government in one capacity or another for about half that time. I own a rent house in Kingston where I pay over $2,000/year more in taxes and services than I do in Farragut for a house not nearly as nice as my home here. That money saved from government allows our citizens to better maintain their homes, support our schools, etc.
At 7 p.m., Jan. 16, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission (FMPC) will decide if Verizon Communications may place 5G cellular small cell support structures in 12 locations in Farragut, including four in residential areas including Stonecrest, Farragut View and The Cove at Turkey Creek.
I am requesting a delay for this approval as the people of Farragut do not have adequate knowledge of how this will impact their property value and whether this new 5G technology is safe for the public. Please attend this meeting so you can learn how your property will be affected.
Some 5G cellular technology requires a line of sight with no inference with a maximum distance of 1,000 feet from antenna to antenna. This mean trees, hills and curves will require more antennas with distances as short as 400 feet in a dense suburban neighborhood.