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Gainesville hikes motel tax, impact fees
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The Gainesville City Council. - photo by Megan Reed

The Gainesville City Council voted Tuesday to increase the city’s hotel-motel tax and impact fees. Council members also authorized the city to begin acquiring land needed to access an upcoming city-owned business park.

Impact fee increase

Fees for new construction in Gainesville have been increased, a change officials say will help fund new projects for the police and fire departments.

The impact fee, a one-time charge for new construction, went up by almost $1,200 after the Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the increase Tuesday. The charge went up to $2,802.91 per residential dwelling unit.

Impact fees are mostly used to fund capital projects for libraries, parks and public safety. The charge is used to pay for facilities, like police or fire stations, that would serve that new development.

Proposed future uses for the fee are a new fire station and expanded public safety facilities. Past uses include a playground at Wilshire Trails Park and a new ladder truck for the Gainesville Fire Department.

The impact fee program started in Gainesville in 2006, and charges had remained steady since then. Hall County also charges impact fees, at $1,241.93 per home.

Hotel-motel tax increase

The final step in Gainesville’s hotel-motel tax increase has been completed, after the Gainesville City Council unanimously approved the tax hike Tuesday.

Beginning July 1, the charge on hotel rooms in the city will be 8%, up from 6%. The extra money will be used to pay for some improvements at Lake Lanier Olympic Park, including restrooms and renovations at the boathouse.

Gainesville’s annexation and takeover of the park has also been approved by the state. Hall County and Gainesville had previously been jointly operating the park.

The last hotel-motel tax increase was in 2001, when it went from 5% to 6%. The city makes between $800,000 to $900,000 from the tax each year, and most of that money funds the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city’s tourism office.

Land acquisitions for business park access road

The city has plans to develop a 1,300-acre business park off of U.S. 129 in the area of Allen Creek Road and Fullenwider Road, which will require the construction of an access road in the area.

On Tuesday, the council unanimously agreed to authorize city staff to move forward with acquiring about nine parcels to build the road. City Manager Bryan Lackey said initial discussions have begun with property owners in the area of Microwave Tower Road and Smallwood Road.

Only one structure is expected to be affected, Lackey said. He said a timeline for construction has not been finalized.

The resolution passed Tuesday authorizes the city to exercise eminent domain if needed.

According to the resolution, current roads between the business park site and U.S. 129 have sharp curves and hills not fit for the traffic that would be going to the business park.

Gainesville 85 Business Park will be on land the city already owns. Gainesville purchased it in 1990.