A nearly $1.2 million hike in the Joliet hotel tax would go to a dedicated fund for three downtown attractions.
Interim City Manager Steve Jones told the council this week that he plans to create a dedicated fund that would be used for the Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet Area Historical Museum and DuPage Medical Group Field.
Those facilities would not get more money under the plan, Jones said. But they would not compete with other city needs each year at budget time.
The fund would "earmark that money to preserve and protect these cultural assets and not put it in the general fund," he told the council at a budget meeting on Wednesday.
The 3% increase in the hotel tax faced opposition at that meeting from representatives of the local hotel industry, who argued that it would take a toll on their business.
Christopher Greenwood with Posh Hospitality said the company faces the loss of a $600,000 contract with one client that brings business to Joliet hotels.
"They either want us to absorb this tax increase or they're going to move that business elsewhere," Greenwood told the council.
Dan Scott, president of the Will County Lodging Association, suggested that the city instead consider a special hotel assessment that would fund tourism promotion to bring more visitors to Joliet.
But the hotel tax did not face objections from council members and appears likely to remain on the budget that goes to a vote on Tuesday.
The Rialto, museum and stadium are slated to get over $1 million in 2020, leaving about $140,000 that would be carried over into the next year to start what Jones called a "sustainable revenue source."
Advocates for the Rialto for years have talked about a dedicated tax to increase funding for the theater. But the Rialto is getting $475,000 in 2020, actually $25,000 less than it received this year from the city.
The city usually provides $500,000 a year for the Rialto. But the theater requested less money for 2020 based on its ability to reduce losses.
The Joliet Area Historical Museum is budgeted for $275,000.
Spending on the city-owned stadium varies from year to year but is budgeted at $301,000 for 2020.
The city hotel tax is now at 7% a year and would go to 10% under the budget proposal.
A staff analysis of area hotel taxes showed rates from 5% in Orland Park and 5.5% in Naperville to 9% in Romeoville and 11% in Bolingbrook.