La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat plans to move forward with a proposal to increase the hotel room tax, despite a history of year-over-year increase in tax revenue at the current rate.

In a report provided by city of La Crosse Finance Director Valerie Fenske, the amount of tax revenue reported in 2018 exceeded $2.6 million, compared with $1.6 million in 2014.

The rise in room tax revenue can be attributed to hotel construction in 2016 and 2017, while the 2018 increase can be attributed to higher occupancy rates, Fenske said.

Mayor Tim Kabat plans to introduce a proposal to increase the rate to the common council in May, though he may not go the 50 percent increase he previously suggested.

A 50 percent increase would make La Crosse’s room tax rate the highest in the state by two percentage points, which would stand out to meeting and event planners as they build budgets and look for places to hold conventions and other events. That could hurt the area’s competitiveness as area organizations work to bring visitors to the La Crosse Center and other city amenities, according to a report by Tribune reporter Jourdan Vian in January.

“I’ve gotten pushback for my proposal for 12 percent, so that’s probably going to be a challenge to get that adopted by the council, but I am still going to be moving forward with an increase above the [current] 8 percent,” Kabat said.

The additional revenue from the potential room tax increase would go toward the cost of renovating the La Crosse Center. Without an increase, the city may have to cut into the budgets for other city programs or increase property taxes to pay for the renovation, according to Kabat.

“There are going to be very serious financial challenges,” Kabat said.

The current 8 percent room tax is currently divided between La Crosse Center operation costs, the Convention and Visitor Bureau, and the city, and the full amount of the revenue raised above that 8 percent would go toward debt service payments on the La Crosse Center renovation.

The final decision on a room tax increase would be up to the city council.

City of La Crosse room tax revenue

Here's a month-by-month look at the room tax revenue for the city. Data provided by the city of La Crosse. 

Month 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
January 84,099 90,589 114,570 116,496 126,137
February 109,443 116,523 143,539 161,838 169,668
March 106,582 121,580 134,447 190,533 201,239
April 123,504 140,451 172,160 192,880 194,992
May 141,321 164,806 195,990 247,796 273,346
June 172,669 173,911 204,852 254,441 285,461
July 178,597 203,612 258,850 280,390 260,552
August 181,471 193,863 229,073 254,824 281,810
September 188,549 188,231 235,379 278,944 287,450
October 171,530 234,323 268,227 243,780 273,521
November 97,707 109,848 138,780 146,167 157,656
December 94,707 108,580 127,599 155,915 166,999
Total 1,650,179 1,846,317 2,223,466 2,524,004 2,678,831

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Data, interactive and video journalist

Elizabeth Beyer is the agriculture, data, interactive, audio and video journalist with the La Crosse Tribune.

(1) comment


I predict more new motels outside of city limits!
This mayor can’t manage his own check book, bankruptcy a few years ago, so this fool is trying to do the same to LaCrosse.
Now that the taxpayers have financed new motels in town this moron mayor is trying to drive them out of town and you can’t blame them if they lock their doors and the people that organize visitors to the La Crosse Center and other city amenities go to an another city that’s not as money grabbing like lacrosse is!!!

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