By unanimous vote, members of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors have delayed implementing the transient occupancy tax until Jan. 1.
The request to push back the tax collection — originally set for Sept. 1 — was made by county staff members and businesses that are impacted.
“We want to make the process as modern and as friendly as possible to those who have to remit those taxes,” said County Administrator David Smitherman at Wednesday’s special called meeting.
It was in July when supervisors approved the 4% tax to be levied for anyone staying at a hotel, campground or Airbnb-style lodging in Pittsylvania County.
In the short turnaround, the county ran into what Smitherman called “procedural issues” with collecting the tax. He said they are working with a software vendor to improve the process.
Jeff Love, owner of the Leesville Lake Campground in Gretna, said impacted businesses only received about 30 days notice regarding the new tax.
“We still haven’t received clear answers to our questions,” he told board members at the meeting, targeting the Commissioner of Revenue’s office. Love, who said the summer and fall are the busiest times for the campground, was the only one to speak during the public hearing on delaying the tax collection.
He cited issues like software used for reservations and accounting as well as measures needed to publish the taxes to prospective lodgers as reasons for supervisors to delay it.
“We just don’t know how to implement it properly,” he told the board.
Love also criticized the tax in general, saying it would hurt the tourism industry in the county.
When the tax collection starts, about 2% of the revenue will go to the general operating funds for the county. The other half will be used on efforts to enhance tourism.
“The Board of Supervisors has made finding alternative revenue streams that don’t solely impact county residents a top priority, which is why this tax was enacted and the meals tax was raised from 4% to 6%,” county leaders wrote on a Facebook post.
“We would like to see our staff offer everything available from the county to assist the Commissioner of the Revenue to get this right before Jan. 1 when it’s implemented,” Chairman Bob Warren said after the vote, noting the original goal of Sept. 1 had an adverse impact they didn’t realize.
“I do support the occupancy tax,” Warren said, explaining it’s more of a flow-through process for businesses to collect it and pass along to the county.
The businesses that this new tax will affect should be hearing from the Commissioner of the Revenue regarding the collection and implementation, county leaders said on Facebook.