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Butts not welcome in parks?
City Council considers smoke-free designation
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A park near you soon could become smoke-free.

The Gainesville City Council will vote on a proposed ordinance Tuesday that would prohibit smoking at any park, sports complex or recreation facility owned or operated by the city.

The advisory board for Gainesville’s Parks and Recreation Department has recommended that smoking be restricted in city recreation areas.

Gainesville Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper told City Council in December that there have been numerous complaints from citizens, including some from the Gainesville school system, about smoking.

City Council discussed the proposal at its Thursday work session and will vote on Tuesday. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect immediately.

The council also will decide Tuesday on a proposed change to the city’s hotel motel tax.

The new ordinance would allow the city to charge guests of in-city hotels for the first 30 days of their stay. After 30 days, the guests would be considered hotel residents and no longer be subject to the tax, according to the ordinance.

The city’s current ordinance charges in-city hotel guests the 6 percent tax for the first 10 days of their stay in a Gainesville hotel. Recent changes in state law allow the city to increase the amount and duration of the tax.

Earlier in the month, the council discussed an idea of raising the tax along with the extension of the taxation period. Council members dropped the idea after hearing from local hoteliers that higher rates would make it hard to compete with surrounding cities.

The next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St.