Lodging tax increase for soccer complex fails at Lake of the Ozarks

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- A grassroots campaign to vote no on an increased lodging tax at the Lake of the Ozarks picked up steam in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

"This was never about soccer," said Gail Griswold, a Camden County resident who opposed the tax increase. "This was not about preventing any type of progress for the lake."

But voters in Camden, Miller, and Morgan Counties made their voices heard.

The lodging tax increase didn't pass in one precinct where it was on the ballot.

Opponents said they did not want to raise the lodging tax a the Lake of the Ozarks so an eight field soccer tournament complex could be built in Osage Beach.

"When you realize that the tax doesn't sunset, it never expires, that really starts to scare you a little bit," Griswold said.

Griswold is the owner of the Shawnee Bluff Winery and Inn on the Bagnell Dam Boulevard. She and other small resort owners felt their venues would actually be hurt by the tax increase.

Griswold also said she worried about blocking rooms off for soccer teams, with no guarantees the room would be filled for the resorts farther away from the complex site.

"Small resorts that have 10-15 rooms, or cabins, if they don't get booked and have to have those blocked off, that will really impact their bottom line," Griswold said.

But even thought this vote failed, the soccer complex idea might not be dead yet.

"You have to have funding, you have to have a location, you have to have ownership, you have to have an operation. You have to go back and analyze each of those," said Tim Jacobsen, the Executive Director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There's obviously other opportunities there, it's just a matter of if they're viable or not."

Griswold says if there is a way to do build this soccer complex without an increased lodging tax, the group that was vocally against this in the final weeks would likely be in support.

"I think if they can find other funding mechanisms that isn't a lodging tax, that everyone can get behind, and there's a really concrete plan with a lot of information and more prepared answers? Yes," Griswold said.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau says the business owners and parties who supported this complex will be meeting to discuss whether or not there is a path forward in the coming months.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.