Indiana group seeks tax increase to repair presidential home

The group that oversees an Indiana home of the nation's ninth president is pushing for legislation that would increase the local innkeeper's tax rate to fund the mansion's repairs.

Posted: Feb 4, 2019 9:30 AM

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — The group that oversees an Indiana home of the nation's ninth president is pushing for legislation that would increase the local innkeeper's tax rate to fund the mansion's repairs.

The Grouseland Foundation is looking for funds to help repair the Grouseland house in Vincennes, where William Henry Harrison lived while he was governor of the Indiana Territory, The Sun-Commercial reported . Harrison was elected U.S. president in 1840.

The foundation is seeking a one-point increase on the innkeeper's tax. It will generate $40,000 to $60,000 annually, which is about 30 percent of Grouseland's annual budget, said Lisa Ice-Jones, the foundation's director.

"What this would do is provide us with a baseline for restoration and preservation of the building," Ice-Jones said. "The (mansion) needs a lot of upgrades and improvements."

The innkeeper's tax is currently set to about five cents on the dollar and is collected by local hotels. The funds go to the Vincennes Tourism Bureau, which uses the money to promote locations in the county.

The Knox County Tourism Commission and the tourism bureau are opposing the proposal. The bureau said it's concerned that the effort will lead to other local tourism spots seeking more funds.

"There are seven major museums/attractions in our area," said Shyla Beam, the bureau's executive director. "If Grouseland gets a dedicated funding source of 1 percent, surely the other attractions will be asking for their part of the pie."

Beam is also concerned that local businesses will pass on the increased fee to their visitors by increasing room rates, which could ultimately discourage visitors.

"This impacts the competitiveness of our hotels within our market," Beam said.

Ice-Jones emphasized the site's historical importance.

"Grouseland is important to the entire state of Indiana," she said. "Grouseland was the gateway to statehood. And it's a presidential site."

The home, located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Evansville, was completed in 1804.

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