City missing out on taxes collected in cabs, shuttles

Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 4:03pm

A $2 airport departure tax levied to help pay off debt on the $585 million Music City Center has not been fully enforced, leaving Metro shortchanged on tax revenues and prepared to take action.

Passengers riding taxicabs and other shuttle services that depart from the Nashville International Airport are required to pay a $2 fee on top of normal transit charges, as part of the tourist-targeted tax structure designed to bankroll the city’s new convention center.

But according to Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling, transit companies are only applying the $2 fee half the time, leaving Metro collecting approximately $400,000 annually from the departure tax when it should be generating $800,000 a year. He said the airport charges a similar fee, which it, too, hasn’t fully collected.

“We just think from talking to the airport that not everybody is paying,” Riebeling said. “Our sense is we’re probably leaving half the money on the table right now.”

After meeting with airport leaders this week, Riebeling informed the nine-member Convention Center Authority Thursday that an ordinance is in the works that would authorize $1.5 million to install devices called transponders inside departure vehicles to monitor fee collections.

The Metro Council, Convention Center Authority and Nashville Airport Authority would all need to sign off on the bill. Essentially, Metro would front the $1.5 million and be paid back by revenues generated by operations at the convention center. Riebeling said the ordinance could be drafted by next month.

“We’ve been talking to the airport for the past year about potentially doing this,” Riebeling said. “We had a final meeting on it yesterday and reached a verbal agreement on it.”

As for the hotel-motel tax, which produces a much larger revenue stream for Music City Center, Riebeling said he’s confident Metro is collecting its full share. 

8 Comments on this post:

By: house_of_pain on 3/4/10 at 4:19

Departure tax? Bwaaahahahaha! Y'all can kiss my arse on that one.

By: JeffF on 3/4/10 at 5:33

Would love to hear about what extra government service the riders of taxis are receiving when they decide to go to the airport instead of anywhere else. Interesting piece of law waiting to be made in a courtroom somewhere when the government makes a case to tax users of a taxi to/from the airport instead of taxing all the locals dropping off or picking up people at the exact same place.

Of course that is the beauty of taxing travellers, they are not going to fight an unfair tax in our local jurisdiction. There are a lot of cities that would do a OMG if the feds carpet bombed tourism taxes and harmful to interstate commerce. Nashville isn't the only city guilty of overbuilding luxury items with other people's money.

By: cannoneer2 on 3/4/10 at 7:35

It'll be easier to fund all of these projects if Metro just goes ahead and turns the tourists upside down and shakes the funds out of them.

By: bfra on 3/5/10 at 4:46

The ones that swallowed the bull "build it and they will come" must also be narrow minded enough to believe, those they believe will come "tourist", will come faster just to pay all the higher taxes.

By: Dragon on 3/5/10 at 7:45

FTA - "Metro would front the $1.5 million and be paid back by revenues generated by operations at the convention center."

Looks like it started early. What happened to NO taxes out of your pocket? You think Metro will be paid back in a few years?

By: idgaf on 3/5/10 at 11:07

Whay an idiotic thing that is. Start the "tourist" off with the feeling they are being ripped off.

Think Dean is barrys half brother?

By: Dragon on 3/5/10 at 1:40

Obama just signed a $10 tourist tax for foreign tourists. The purpose? Attract more foreign tourists.

By: fishfry on 3/5/10 at 1:57

It looks like politicians in Nashville have finally slipped over the edge and are now confirmed nut-balls! Especially when it comes to people and their money. I guess the pol's have so much money that they just feel everyone else wants to give their's away when they travel. NUT-BALLS

Metro needs to suck it up and give out some early retirements, stop funding programs that fail, clean up fraud, stop letting everyone use gov. cars and phones, etc. etc. etc. The money is THERE!