b'As Local Municipalities See Budgets Tighten, Morehave made many Alabama parks less com-petitive with parks across the border in Geor-gia, according to Sparrow. It also would haveLook to Tourism Taxes That Impact Local Parks forced park operators to lower their long-term rates, he said, noting that lodging taxesin Alabama vary from 3% to 17%, dependingon the county.Consumers looking for long-term RV sitesare mindful of the costly effects of transientoccupancy taxes (TOT), Sparrow said. When they call your park asking for a sea-sonal spot, they ask for the total price, he said.Parkoperatorsandtheirassociationsaround the country are increasingly fightingtaxation battles.The Maine Campground Owners Associ-ation(MECOA) is gearing up for a lodging taxfight next year.We have two lodging tax bills that havebeen carried over to the next season, saidKathy Dyer, executivedirector of MECOA. Thebills include LD1254 andLD609, which would in-creasetheexistinglodgingtaxby1%,boosting it to 10%.We will, of course,speak against both of Kathy Dyerthese bills when the time comes, she said.Earlier this year, park operators in Con-BY JEFF CRIDER necticut worked with the Connecticut Camp-groundOwnersAssociation (CCOA)andsuccessfully defeated an effort to apply aAcross the country, campgrounds and RV Alabama Association of RV Parks and Camp- guests,hetoldWoodallsCampground 6.35% state sales tax to campsites.parks are increasingly coming up on the grounds and utilizes both organizations to Management(WCM). The association organized a letter-writingradar of local and state officials as they help monitor legislation in the two states. If Florida ARVC had failed to secure such campaign and recruited legislators to helpsearch for new sources of tax revenue. Early this year, state legislators in Ala- tax protection for longer-term guests, it would make its case. CCOA officials also gave tes-To me, what I see is that the (outdoor bama proposed imposing a lodging tax onhospitality) industry has a bullseye on it, and every RV site. local jurisdictions are looking at any oppor- Sparrow, who owns and operates Auburntunity to increase rev- RVParkatLeisureTimeCampground inenue,saidThomas Auburn, Ala., led an effort to exempt RV parksSparrow,treasurerof from the tax, which ultimately failed. How-the Florida Association ever, Sparrow managed to eventually workof RV Parks and Camp- out a compromise with state legislators to ex-grounds(Florida ARVC), empt campsites from the lodging tax if thewho has been actively camper stayed onsite for more than 90 days.involved fighting taxa- Sparrow said the compromise is particu-Thomas Sparrow tion efforts targeting RV larly beneficial for park operators who haveparks in neighboring Alabama. a large number of snowbirds.Local officials are finding that enacting transient taxes that target campers staying at localBobby Cornwall, executive director of We got what we wanted, which was (tax) parks can help boost their budgets. Florida ARVC, is also executive director of the protectionforlonger-termandseasonaltimony in person.What we basically did was go down tothe legislative office building, sign up and tes-tify that we felt it wasgoing to adversely af-fect the tourism trade,said Peter Brown, a co-ownerofLoneOakCampsites inEastCanaan, Conn., and in-coming chairman of theNationalAssociation Peter Brownof RV Parks and Campgrounds(ARVC).A key argument Brown and other park oper-ators made was that neighboring states did nothave similar sales taxes on campsites. So, if thetax were to become law, Connecticut could po-tentially lose business to neighboring states.Brownandotherparkoperatorsalsocomplained that the state sales tax would notbe applied to government-run campgrounds. Thats a major unfairness between us andthem, he said, adding, Were already subsi-dizing them with our tax money as a state.Unfair taxation involving public and privateparks has been going on for a long time.Severalyearsago,Debbie Sipe, the formerexecutivedirectorofCampCalNOW RV ParkandCampgroundAl-liance, wrote a whitepaper on TOTs titledTOTthe Good, theDebbie Sipe Bad, the Ugly and the30 -October 2019Woodalls Campground Management'