The owners of the five hotels located at the Interstate 77 exchange (Exit 14) addressed the Hillsville Town Council during its Nov. 26 meeting, questioning why they were paying real estate taxes to both the town and the county, and why the town has not been able to secure a nationally-known restaurant for the Interstate 77 exchange (Exit 14). C.J. Patel, Bob Patel and Mehul Patel each addressed council after receiving their first real estate tax bill since being annexed by the town.
C.J. Patel noted that his tax bill went from $26,000 to $40,000 since the annexation, and questioned why the real estate tax he pays could not be shared by the county and town, as is the occupancy tax. Of the five percent occupancy tax paid by the hotel owners, three percent goes to Carroll County and two percent to Hillsville.
“How come real estate taxes aren’t being done that way. Can’t the Town of Hillsville come to some sort of agreement with the county,” asked Patel. “I’m looking at an extra $20,000 (in operating costs) with winter approaching and business slowing.”
“We’ve built six hotels in five years in Wytheville, because we have just one tax and a lower rate,” he added.
Patel also noted that a lack of a nationally-known restaurant that serves liquor by the drink is also greatly needed in order to draw travelers to Hillsville instead of Wytheville.
“Why is Wytheville growing and not Hillsville?” said Patel. “When guests check in and ask ‘where can we get something to eat?,’ all we can say is Shoney’s. They say Shoney’s is for breakfast and I get free at your hotel. We need another restaurant in this town. I’m not talking about Taco Bell, I’m talking about Ruby Tuesday’s. You can go to Galax and eat Taco Bell if you want.”
Patel even offered his hotel to the town, telling council that he would “give you the keys, no money, and you just pay the mortgage.”
Mehul Patel told council that the hotel owners have a big stake in seeing Hillsville grow.
“I just want to see the town grow because we have an investment in this town,” he said. “I want this town to grow, but could we do something like with the occupancy tax.”
Mehul Patel also offered ownership of his hotels to the town, adding “just take care of the employees.”
“They’re all for sale if you want them,” added C.J. Patel.
Mayor Greg Crowder asked the owners how the hotel business was doing nationally. C.J. Patel answered that the group’s hotels in Wytheville and his recently opened Hampton Inn in Galax are doing much better than the I-77 properties.
Mayor Greg Crowder said he understood the group’s concerns both as a town official and as a private businessman.
“How would you like to be in our shoes? We’ve got a $300,000 budget, and that’s what we’ve got to work with besides our reserve,” said Crowder. “I certainly have sympathy with you, but if we do something for you, we have to do something for everybody.”
Crowder added that he would like to see a nationally-known restaurant locate in Hillsville, and would be willing to supply the property for free.
“Let’s work together to see if we can really get a restaurant in here. I’ve got a piece of property next to my business, the Race-In, worth a million dollars, and I’d give that away for anybody to come in,” he said.
Vice Mayor Ed Terry noted that since Hillsville’s annexation of the I-77 property, the chance of luring a nationally-known restaurant has been improved since the town allows liquor-by-the-drink. Terry and Crowder both told the hotel owners the town will be more than willing to work with them to secure new restaurants.