SOMERS POINT — City Council approved an increase in the local motel/hotel occupancy tax rate from 2 to 3 percent Thursday, the most the state allows.

Mayor Jack Glasser said the purpose of the increase is to create additional funds to further promote tourism within the city.

“In a small town where your budgets are very tight, we need to look at other means to give our Economical Development Commission a little more of a financial backing,” Glasser said.

One-third of the total annual local room tax, up to a maximum of $50,000, will go directly to Somers Point Economic Development Advisory Commission. The increase will take effect in January.

Glasser said the city has recently been putting increased focus on tourism in an attempt to attract shore visitors to vacation in the city, as opposed to the nearby beach towns.

In that same vein, the city last month also unveiled its new slogan: “The Shore Starts Here.”

“The new branding is great, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Glasser said.

Michael Bray, chairman of the Advisory Commission, who was instrumental in the slogan change, said the important thing was that with more money the commission can do more to attract people to Somers Point, and with that, help local business owners increase their revenue.

“We’ll be able to put more people at the dinner tables of the more than 40 restaurants in our city as well as in the (10) hotels and motels,” Bray said. “For people who aren’t crazy about the beach, but are looking for nighttlife, Somers Point is a great alternative, and we need to showcase that.”

Glasser said one nice benefit of the motel/hotel occupancy tax is it doesn’t affect the wallets of the people who live in Somers Point.

“It’s not affecting our taxpayers. In fact, by promoting our town, it’s helping our taxpayers.”

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.