An eleventh hour attempt by Timmins hotel operators to delay implementation of the municipal accommodation tax prompted a half-hour discussion at last night’s council meeting, but ultimately failed.

Late in the afternoon, the hotel association sent an email to council members, citing concerns about converting their systems to be able to collect the four-percent levy starting May 1st, and about no structure being set up to disburse the money it collects.

Mayor George Pirie reacted angrily to the tactic.  And he called the part of the letter saying a five-year strategic plan is needed “presumptuous”.

“That isn’t gonna happen.  We have the right to put this tax in place.  And quite frankly, we’re going to put this tax in place,” the mayor stated.  “And you have just lost the biggest advocate you had for consultation, which was me.”

Timmins Mayor George Pirie. Photo credit: Bob McIntyre, Moose FM

The mayor noted that the tax was first discussed late in the last council’s term.  He said he has always supported it on the condition that consultations be held.

“This has been out there a long time,” Pirie said. “And we have to put the money in trust and we have time to get the proper governance structure in place.  But to insinuate in that email that there was no consultation is false.”

Ultimately, the council vote to adopt the bylaw was unanimous.

The tax can only be collected this year.  Disbursements to non-profit stakeholders in the local tourism sector can’t begin until 2020.