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By Louis Hoglund, Forum Communications Co., Published January 19 2010

Perham begins new tax

PERHAM, Minn. – Some call it a tax. Others call it an assessment.

Regardless of what it’s called, hotel proprietors here have been collecting more money from patrons who stay overnight to pay for the city’s new lodging tax since the new year began.

Two Perham hotels will collect 3 percent on every room rental. That money will be pooled and spent on advertising and marketing of Perham and the East Otter Tail lake country.

Much of the money will be spent on the Minnesota Department of Tourism’s “Explore Minnesota” Web site and on giant roadside billboards, said local authorities. Local and regional advertising and promotion also will be purchased.

Based on the annual volume at Perham’s two hotels, the tax should generate about $30,000 a year. A local “Tourism Bureau” would make decisions and recommendations as to how the money is invested.

And while they may wait to gauge the success of their neighbor’s campaign, officials in nearby Ottertail may consider collaborating with Perham on the lodging tax as well. Perham Chamber of Commerce officials will meet next week with the Ottertail City Council to discuss the idea. If successful, the Ottertail and Perham lodging tax would be administered under a joint agreement.

And officials believe it would raise another $30,000 per year.

Louis Hoglund is a reporter at the East Ottertail Focus in Perham and New York Mills, Minn., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.