The Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Commission(GSCTC) will meet Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at Country Boy Brewing to discuss the future of regulation for short-term rental operation in Georgetown and Scott County. Feedback from that meeting will be provided to local government officials as they consider any new regulations.

The meeting was prompted by a public hearing held by the Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission at their Nov 10 meeting on proposed amendments to the Georgetown-Scott County Zoning Ordinance that would add new definitions for short-term rentals, commonly referred to as ‘Airbnbs’. The proposed zoning amendments would be the first step in adding regulations to govern the operations of short-term rentals in Georgetown and Scott County. 

Airbnb.com is an online platform that allows peer-to-peer renting of individual rooms or dwellings. While several other websites, like vrbo.com, offer similar services, “Airbnb” has become a common term used to describe any short-term rental hosted on an online platform. 

While GSCTC is not responsible for drafting or enforcing local ordinances they are funded by a 3% transient tax on short-term lodging accommodations. While most of the online hosting sites collect a  one  percent transient tax on behalf of the State of Kentucky, many short-term rental operators are unaware that they are also required to submit a 3% tax to GSCTC.

Currently GSCTC collects between $9,000 and $14,000 per year in transient taxes on short-term rentals, which accounts for about 3.2 percent of the total transient taxes paid in Scott County. Based on current listings on airbnb.com the total potential annual tax revenue could be between $30,000 and $35,000 per year, but many operators are not paying.

“It’s not intentional that they’re not paying it’s just that they don’t know they’re supposed to,” said GSCTC Executive Director Lori Saunders. She says many hosts see the deduction for the one percent Kentucky state tax and don’t realize online platforms are not deducting all required taxes. 

Adding new regulation to govern the registration of airbnbs could help GSCTC identify properties that aren’t remitting their taxes. Saunders says that identifying a property on the online platforms can be difficult because the addresses are only provided upon booking. It can also be difficult to properly identify properties on county lines. 

Airbnbs have become increasingly popular in Scott County over the past few years, especially in downtown Georgetown where there are no hotels within walking distance to shops and restaurants. One downtown airbnb owner said his rental is so popular his biggest challenge is having enough time between guests to clean and reset his unit. Airbnbs in historic or unique locations have also become an increasingly popular way to repurpose old buildings, like the Buffalo Springs Distillery in Stamping Ground. These boutique lodgings allow guests to experience local heritage and culture in a more personal way than traditional lodgings. 

Local short-term rental hosts are invited to join GSCTC’s discussion at Country Boy on Tuesday. For more information on the Georgetown-Scott County Tourism Commission visit georgetownky.com.

 

Elizabeth Morey can be reached at emorey@news-graphic.com.

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