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by Sarah J.F. Braley | December 01, 2012
In this volatile election season, several cities around the U.S. had hospitality tax hikes on their ballots.

In El Paso, Texas, voters approved a 2 percent rise in the hotel tax, from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent, slated to take effect next spring. Coupled with the Texas state sales tax of 8.25 percent, the total tax on rooms will become 17.5 percent, among the highest occupancy levies in the country.

The influx of funds is earmarked to help build a ballpark for the Tucson Padres, who are expected to move to El Paso in 2014, according to the El Paso Times.

In California, 17 towns asked their citizens to raise the occupancy tax, and only three measures failed. Most notably, voters in Santa Cruz (and the county of Santa Cruz) increased the levy to 11 percent, with the new funds to be used for general economic development, and voters in Coronado approved a tax hike, to 10 percent. Coronado also has a .5 percent Tourism Improvement District tax, so visitors will pay 10.5 percent on their rooms.

"I'm excited that people support it, but I'm not surprised, because we have heard during the campaign that jobs and economic development are at the top of people's minds," Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The injection into the city's budget of about $500,000 annually is reported to be earmarked for general services.

In Bismarck, S.D., voters were asked to approve a 1.5 percent motel, liquor and restaurant tax, as well as a 1 percent lodging tax, all to help fund the expansion of the Bismarck Civic Center, but the measure was turned down. The anticipated revenues would have been used to add a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and 16,500 square feet of meeting space, and to renovate the existing 110,000 square feet of space.