TULSA - A judge has ruled that a three percent assessment levied on hotels of 110 rooms or larger in Tulsa violates state law, but the dispute between hoteliers who support the city's Tourism Improvement District and those who oppose it will likely continue.
Tulsa County District Court Judge Linda Morrissey ruled last week that the city ordinance which created Tulsa's TID violated state law.
She says the statute specifies TIDs must include all hotels of 50 rooms or larger.
Attorney Kyden Creekpaum, who represents Tulsa Hotel Partners, LLC defended the ordinance in court, while the city largely sat mute.
He argues that the intent of the statute specifies no such thing.
The actual law reads: “Without limiting or expanding the preceding sentence or any other provision of this act, such a district may be comprised of a designated geographical area within the municipality and limited to only those properties within such geographical area on which a hotel or motel having 50 or more rooms available for occupancy is located, if the sole purpose of the district is to provide marketing services for private or public events reasonably calculated to increase occupancy and room rates for such properties as a class.”
Lee Levinson is one of the owners of the Aloft Hotel downtown, as well as an attorney who argued against the TID in court.
He tells KRMG that he welcomes the ruling, and accepts the finding of the court regarding the state statute.
But the real issue for himself and those who sued the block the ordinance, he said, was transparency.
Most of the seats on the board that would spend the TID money belonged to Visit Tulsa, the travel and tourism entity which is a branch of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“Had there been a TID where the hoteliers, including the Aloft, would have had control of the TID, where we had the voting control, and we could decide where the money was spent, and had transparency - know where it was - that TID probably would have passed,” Levinson said. “They could have got support.”
Creekpaum said the issue may well end up back in court.
“Well, we're definitely pursuing all of our options, we're planning to continue this fight,” he said. “I mean, it's not over here.”