City to Hoteliers: Pay up!

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The cash-strapped city of Bend is preparing to send a collective six figure bill for overdue room tax charges that the city believes it has been shorted by a number of local hotels, including the Riverhouse.

The city of Bend released the final figures from its recent audit of six Bend hotels showing that the properties owe together more than $330,000 to the city because they under reported room tax revenue between Jan.2007 and Jan 2010. According to the city the Riverhouse, a property that has a contentious history with the city including an unrelated lawsuit over a construction bill disputes, owes the most -- roughly a $129,000 as of Dec 31 last year. Bend Inn and Suites and the Best Western each own roughly $57,000, according to the city. Other debtors include Econolodge ($38K) Pine Ridge (19K) and Sleep Inn ($46K)

The news follows several months of wrangling and speculation by the city that a number of hotel properties had exploited a loophole in the city's room tax rules that allowed hotels to deduct a meal expense from their tax bill, but had failed to properly account for the funds. The city has since eliminated the meal tax loophole over the objections of several hotel owners, most notably Riverhouse owner Wayne Purcell who aggressively lobbied the council to retain the exemption.

Purcell, who could not be reached by phone Wednesday evening, told the Source earlier this year that he has followed the city's room tax rules and didn't expect an audit to reveal any discrepancies.

 


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