Eatontown moves ahead with hotel tax proposal

Boro expected to realize as much as $300k in new revenue next year

By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

EATONTOWN — It may soon cost a little more to stay in a hotel or motel room in town.

The Borough Council introduced a proposed ordinance on July 23 to impose a tax of 8 percent on each night’s stay in a hotel or motel room, with the revenue from 1 percent going to the borough this year and increasing to 3 percent next year. The overall tax stays at 8 percent, with 7 percent going to the state this year and that share dropping to 5 percent next year.

A public hearing on the measure is scheduled for Wednesday.

The new hotel/motel tax, with a provision for a town piggyback, was created by the Legislature when it passed the budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

Borough Business Administrator Michael L. Trotta told the council the borough will have 531 hotel/motel rooms when the Staybridge Suites opens, and figuring an average per-night charge of $80 per room, at 70 percent occupancy the borough will realize $108,000 in the first year of tax running through next June 30. The income will triple when the tax goes up July 1, he noted.

The council gave third and final passage to a change in the zoning ordinance converting the lower parking lot behind the municipal complex to P1, for public lands, from B1, for business, so the Fire Department can build a needed storage facility in it without obtaining a use variance.

In other action, the council awarded a contract for sidewalk construction along Wall Street from Industrial Way north to Mindy Lane. The contract went to Curb Con Inc., of Barnegat, the lowest of four bidders, for $59,952.50. The other bids ranged from $74,000 to $183,500.

Councilwoman Joyce Englehart observed how widely varying the bids were on the job.

The council also voted to introduce an ordinance increasing liquor license fees.

A public hearing on it will be held on Wednesday.

Board Attorney Gene Anthony said the fees for a distribution license or a retail license, both of which are $2,000 now, will go up $500 to $2,500. He said club licenses will increase from $150 to $188.

The council also accepted the resignation of Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer, of Woodbridge, as bond counsel for the borough. Anthony explained that a recent court ruling causes the law firm, which has some private clients in the borough, to possibly be in a conflict of interest. He said the law firm felt the chance its representation of the borough would place it in conflict with the private clients was "rather remote" but didn’t want to take a chance that it would be so held.

The council voted to hire the McLaughlin Gelson firm, of Wall, to replace the Wilentz firm.

Anthony noted that the McLaughlin firm is now without state Sen. John O. Bennett III, R-Monmouth. He said the McLaughlin firm had represented the borough previously in bond matters.