Among the flurry of bills given final approval by the Georgia General Assembly on the final day of the 2019 legislative session were two measures with direct impact on the City of Gainesville - HB 649 and HB 650.
HB 649 provides for the increase in the hotel-motel tax from 6% to 8% with the additional monies going to operation of Lake Lanier Olympic Park. HB 650 allows for the annexation of the park on Clarks Bridge Road into the city and provides for the city of Gainesville to assume sole operation of the park.
Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey said while there was no indication the bills would not pass the House and the Senate, it was still a relief to see the measures cross the hurdle.
"As it's going through the process, there's a little bit of anxiety to make sure that it gets to the finish line," Lackey said.
He said once Gov. Kemp signs the bills, city officials first will take the necessary steps to adopt an ordinance that will change the tax structure for hotels and motels in Gainesville.
"We plan for that [the increase] to take effect July 1 of this year to coincide with our next fiscal year," said Lackey. "It will change our [tax] structure where a percentage of that will go to a tourism project, which will be the Lake Lanier Olympic Park project, the capital upgrades that will go into that park."
Lackey said park visitors won't see any immediate changes to the park because money first has to be generated to fund the upgrades. Also, the city will need to figure out how to operate the park on its own.
"We really have to get through, I'll say, the first year or first few months of operation of the park, which will be a little bit of a honeymoon/learning period between us and the park staff and the [Lake Lanier Olympic Park] Foundation as well as the two clubs that operate out of the park," said Lackey.
Lackey said he anticipates some meetings in the near future once the governor puts his signature on the two bills.