State rates for motels won't go upPIERRE — The state Board of Finance decided in a roundabout way Tuesday against raising the $50 nightly rate paid to motels for lodging state government employees on official travel.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The state Board of Finance decided in a roundabout way Tuesday against raising the $50 nightly rate paid to motels for lodging state government employees on official travel.
Board members told Michele Brich, representing the South Dakota Innkeepers Association, to bring the request for an increase back to the board in June.
That would allow the board members to decide in August whether to proceed with a rate increase.
State agencies and departments, in turn, would have time to adjust their next round of budget requests.
The board increased the reimbursement rate to $50 from $46.50 effective July 1 this year. That was a half-way step in response to Brich’s original proposal that a series of annual or semi-annual increases be made over several years to reach a goal of $55. Brich’s request to the board Tuesday was an increase to $55 from the new $50. As support, she presented survey results from 29 motel owners and operators in eight of South Dakota’s major communities. The survey showed more of the motels offered rooms at the state rate and did so with fewer restrictions after the move to $50.
Three, however, still refused to use the state rate at $50. One would still refuse at $55.
The comments section of the survey included various mentions that the federal lodging rate is $77.
The surveys were sent to 81 lodging properties in Aberdeen, Lawrence County, Mitchell, Pierre and Fort Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown and Yankton.
Tony Venhuizen, a senior aide to the governor and the board’s chairman, favored waiting on the next increase until the 2015 state budget takes effect on July 1, 2014.
That would allow the increase to be part of the governor’s budget recommendations in December 2013 and be deliberated by the Legislature during the 2014 session.
“We have pretty good participation with some exceptions,” Venhuizen said about the Innkeepers survey results. “We’re moving the needle, which is what we’re trying to do.”
But Brich said there will come a time when state government employees will find difficulty in arranging for motel rooms in the communities where they have state business to conduct.