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La Crosse committee approves room tax compromise, postpones food truck rules



La Crosse’s convention bureau is willing to bite the bullet, and take less money from the local hotel room tax, if it will keep the tax from going too high. 

The city council administration committee gave the OK on Tuesday night to a compromise, supported by the Explore La Crosse bureau, to raise the room tax to 9.5 percent. 

In exchange, the bureau agrees to accept only 27 percent of the annual revenue from the tax, rather than the usual 35 percent. 

Bureau director A.J. Frels, however, said getting less than 27 percent would hurt efforts to promote area tourism.

Frels told the committee that the compromise backed by the bureau would reduce its annual share of the room tax by $78,000.

The convention bureau has been vocal in opposing a room tax of 10 percent or more, because it could drive away meetings and visitors. 

An increase in the current 8 percent room tax is being proposed to help pay for the planned $42 million expansion of the La Crosse Center.

In other action, the committee recommended a 90-day referral of changes to city rules on mobile food vendors. 

Operators of brick-and-mortar restaurants would like to keep street vendors that sell similar products at least 150 feet away from their doors. 

One reason for the proposed delay in new rules, the changes in vendors’ licenses probably wouldn’t be able to go into effect until next year, anyway.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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