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Bill shifting more Memphis hotel tax to FedExForum headed to governor


(The Center Square) – A bill allowing Memphis to divert more of the Shelby County hotel-motel tax to renovations at FedExForum passed the Tennessee Senate and will now head to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature.

Senate and House sponsors of the bill said it would allow the completion of renovations at the arena, home to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The bills allow Shelby County and Memphis to change the allocation of hotel-tax funds but does not change the tax rate.

The bill passed the House 90-0 and then the Senate 28-0.

The Tennessee Legislature contributed $350 million in last year’s budget for renovations at the FedExForum and Liberty Bowl.

Memphis Tourism is currently funded through the 8.5% hotel-motel tax in Shelby County. It is set to receive $12.3 million of the estimated $17.5 million that will be collected in 2023-24, according to the Daily Memphian.

An adjustment to the allocation of those funds would cap Memphis Tourism at receiving 61.2% of the overall hotel-motel tax collections moving forward.

The state legislative bill would allow Shelby County to make that change.

Memphis Tourism has $27 million in reserves, with $9 million of that funding allocated to expenses. The group’s annual budget is $14 million, according to the Daily Memphian.

The Senate vote on the bill was delayed a week after Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson, R-Hixson, asked for more time on it.

At that point, Sen. Brent Taylor, R-Memphis, said that a lot of people in Memphis had worked hard on the legislation.

“They have worked harder than a bunch of ugly strippers to try to get this done,” Taylor said on April 17.

When the bill came back on Monday, Taylor said that Watson “made it like baptizing a housecat.”

“Now that I have said that, I am sure I will get a lot of fan mail from the Cat Fanciers Association and maybe the Southern Baptists Association,” Taylor said.