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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Representative Fenton's New Woodbury Lodging Tax Bill is a Slap in the Face to New Hotels and GOP


Representative Kelly Fenton (Republican) district 53B is what most fiscal conservatives in her party would call a RINO (Republican in Name Only) based on her record since day one of taking office in 2014. Her latest insult to party principle of fiscal responsibility is a bill to allow a new 2% lodging tax for Woodbury with HF1057. This comes after several Hotels recently decided to build in Woodbury (likely to avoid the higher taxes of downtown and pass the savings onto customers). New hotels to Woodbury such as the Sheraton, La Quinta, and Residence Inn by Marriott.

What better way to say welcome to Woodbury than to wait for them to finish building and then stab them in the back with a new tax just for them. We requested comment from Representative Fenton. Here's her unedited full quote:

"Under current law, Woodbury and other cities are able to levy a tax of up to three percent on lodging. My legislation will ultimately save taxpayers money by dedicating two-thirds of that tax collected by the city to fund renovations and improvements to Central Park. Without this legislation, local property taxpayers would ultimately be forced to foot the bill for these improvements. Any suggestion that this bill would authorize a new tax or give the city new authority to raise taxes is demonstrably false. I think this legislation is a win for our community and for the hardworking taxpayers of Woodbury."
I responded proving she was wrong on all counts stating:
1.) It would be a new tax for Woodbury because they don't currently impose a lodging tax. Which is the whole reason they probably built here in Woodbury over most of the other suburbs that do have the tax or high taxes in general. Even the liberal coverage at the Star Tribune called it a "new tax" in their article covering the story.
2.) Also false is the premise that current law does not allow cities to keep the lodging tax revenue for themselves. According to the Woodbury Bulletin article on this story 95% of the tax can be used by the city with the law staying as it currently is! 
3.) City Councilor Chris Burns in the Bulletin article also calls Fenton's bill "a new tax" and goes further to explain they don't need the tax (contrary to Fenton's claim they need it for the Central Park)!:
"he feels the city could create a welcoming center at Central Park without levying a new tax.
“A tax is a tax,” he said. “I'd like to have less taxes and lower rates.”
"
4.) Furthermore the idea that property tax payers in Woodbury would be left to foot the bill for the City Center is also false. Just across I-94 from Fenton's district in Lake Elmo the city's development motto is "growth pays for growth." This is a theme of many cities across the County. Liberal cities like "growth pays for growth" because city tax payers are not bailing out "Big Business". Conservative cities like Lake Elmo like the policy because one person isn't having their money taxed away only to have it redistributed to someone else for a cause they may never use.


To our knowledge at Washington County Watchdog Representative Fenton has yet to author a bill to decrease the size of government, decrease a tax, or reform nightmare State run programs like the unaccountable public schools, MNsure, Met Council, and boondoggle mass transit corridors. Actually the opposite appears in her legislative history. With bills for the Gateway Corridor$189,000 for a fully privately funded parkgiving the County power over the cities for their economic development authority, and spending for efforts many would be frustrated to see State resources going to fund. 

I asked her:
Would you like to respond to defend your apparent lack of fiscal conservative record as far as the bills you decide to author (and not author)?

Representative Fenton did not respond. This silence and her record speaks volumes about who she really is and the damage she causes to her party. A person can have respect for a democrat who issues tax and spend legislation like this because at least they are honest about their agenda before you vote. A person can have no respect for a RINO who lies on the campaign trail and hi-jacks a party because they know they're more likely to get elected with a (R) behind their name than a (D) in a given area. 

-Matt Behning