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Mayor Of Normal Prefers State Regulation Of Airbnb

Normal has approved a tax on Air Bnb and raised the age to buy vaping products to 21.

The mayor of Normal said if the state decides to administer local taxes on Airbnb, the Town of Normal would give over that task willingly for its own 6 percent fee on such temporary housing rentals.

Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Chris Koos said he thinks measures to preserve a competitive landscape such as between Airbnb and traditional hotels and gasoline vs. electric vehicle use might go better outside the town.

"I think a lot of these taxes, it would have been our preference on the Airbnb that those would be done at the state level so that there is a more level playing field. Especially for electric vehicle road use taxes. The way to measure road use of an electric vehicle is more than a municipality can undertake," said Koos.

The Normal Town Council approved the new tax on short-term rentals Monday night.

Koos said the Airbnb tax revenue won't amount to much right now. He said there are about 29 Airbnb units in Normal and about 50 in Bloomington.

Vaping vs. Individual Liberties 

The mayor also acknowledged there is often tension between individual rights and the greater public interest. 

Koos referred to the council's decision Monday to raise the age of legal purchase of vaping materials to 21. 

"That's a tough one. We're required to wear a seat belt when we use a car. We're not allowed to drink x amount of alcohol (while) operating a motor vehicle. There are some personal freedoms that we give up," said Koos.

Koos said the decision is a health issue, not unlike what the town did years ago with smoking in public places. 

He said there is a lot of evidence fewer long-term health problems happen in middle and old age if people don't start smoking in their teens.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.