THE HARBOR CENTER BOARD
THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2020 9 AM
100 HARBOR CENTER BLVD. SLIDELL, LA 70461
The meeting was called to order at 9:01 am by Board Chairman, Mr. Mark Myers. Mr. Myers gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Lowrey then led Roll Call. Present: Stephanie Berault, Kurt Bozant, Martin Bruno, Kevin Davis, Mark Myers, Martin Patel, Thomas Shinn, Darrell Smith, and Kathleen Wilkin. Also present were Kathy Lowrey, Valerie Waeltz and Kelly Baudoin. Absent: Carrie Calvin, Irma Cry, Margo Guillot, and Donna O’Daniels. There was a quorum.
Guest introduction then took place. The guests included Jerry Osbourne of Foley and Judell, Stephanie O’Rourke, the General Manager of Sleep Inn and Pablo Melendez, a former HC Board member.
There was then a call for public comment. Ms. O’Rourke, who is also the president of the North Shore Lodging Association, presented the Board with concerns from the hotel owners about collecting the extra $1 occupancy tax during an economic downturn due to COVID-19. She stated the owners were worried it would drive potential clients away and submitted the possibility of waiting until the spring or summer of 2021 to begin collecting.
Mr. Myers then called for a motion to bring the issue of levying the extra dollar from the hotel occupancy tax to the front of the agenda. Mr. Bozant then moved and Mr. Bruno seconded. It was agreed upon unanimously.
Ms. Lowrey then presented the levying of the Debt Service Millage Rate. It is currently at 0.33% and is advised to remain so. Mr. Bruno moved for the rate to remain unchanged, Mr. Smith seconded the motion and it pass unanimously. Mr. Myers then proceeded with the formal reading of the resolution to keep the rate at 0.33% The Board then voted to accept the resolution. There were 9 yea’s, 0 nay’s, and 4 absent. The resolution passed.
The meeting then moved on to the levying of the hotel occupancy tax rate. Mr. Myers and Mr. Smith shared in the formal reading of the resolution to increase the tax by $1 beginning on October 1, 2020. During the reading, Mr. Myers asked for a motion to amend the resolution to add “not” in a sentence that was miswritten. Mr. Smith moved, Mr. Bruno seconded, and the motion passed unanimously. Mr. Bruno then motioned to discuss the resolution before voting, Ms. Wilkin seconded the motion. Mr. Myers then went on to explain why the resolution was originated and pointed out the Northshore Lodging Association was in favor of such resolution with specific parameters. He then asked for a clarification of the sudden change from the Lodging Association and what was its official position. Ms. O’Rourke explained there had been no change in position, but that some owners were requesting a delay in implementation. Ms. Lowrey asked Ms. O’Rourke how many hotels were requesting the delay and Ms. O’Rourke stated five or six. Mr. Smith inquired about the occupancy number for June, Ms. O’Rourke stated she did not know the exact numbers, but estimated a decrease of around 30%. Mr. Smith asked if the additional dollar in tax impacted the hotel’s profit, Ms. O’Rourke replied no.
Mr. Davis then inquired of Mr. Osbourne if the collection start date can be later. Mr. Osbourne replied collection can begin in the months of January, April, August, or October. Mr. Patel then reinforces points made by Ms. O’Rourke. Mr. Davis motions to amend the collection date to January 1, 2021, Ms. Berault seconded the motion. Discussion issues regarding how long the date can be pushed back. Ms. Berault states the collection should be pushed to January 1, and not to be moved again. The Board then voted on moving the date back. There were 6 yea’s, and 3 nay’s. The vote passes 6-3. There was then a motion to pass the resolution with the amended start date. There were 9 yea’s and 4 absent. The resolution passes.
The meeting then moved on to the Compliance Questionnaire. Mr. Myers gave the formal reading of the questionnaire. Mr. Smith motioned to vote for acceptance, Mr. Bozant seconded and it passed unanimously. The Board then voted to accept. There were 9 yea’s, 0 nay’s and 4 absent.
Next, the reading and accepting of the minutes from the meeting in May and June took place. Mr. Smith motioned to accept the minutes, Mr. Bozant seconded the motion and the Board unanimously accepted, minus Mr. Bozant and Mr. Bruno who abstained due to absences for these dates.
Mr. Bruno then gave the Treasurer’s report. Mr. Bruno motioned to accept the report, Mr. Davis seconded the motion and it was unanimously agreed upon.
The meeting then moved to Old Business. Ms. Lowrey gave an update on protocol and procedures the staff were implementing due to COVID-19. She also mentioned that many events have postponed but have not cancelled. Ms. Lowrey also let the Board know that different methods were being put in place to accommodate upcoming Lobby Lounge shows including moving the show into the grand hall and calling for social distancing with no more than 110 people in the hall at once.
Ms. Waeltz then gave the Sales Report.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:06 am. Mr. Davis motioned for adjournment and Mr. Bozant seconded. It was unanimously agreed upon. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday,
August 6, 2020 at 9 am.