The Portland City Council voted 4-2 Wednesday night to postpone a vote on a proposal to charge a fee to Portland’s hotel guests to help fund a marketing campaign intended to stoke tourism in the city year-round.

The Cambria Hotel on Hancock St. in Portland last fall.

The council postponed the vote until Sept 18. Councilor Pious Ali made the motion to postpone because three councilors – Victoria Pelletier, Anna Trevorrow and Regina Phillips – were absent. Councilors Roberto Rodriguez and April Fournier voted against postponing.

“If we’re using this postponement motion to leverage what’s going to pass based on who’s in the room, that’s not how we do business,” said Rodriguez of the motion. However, any proposal that passes with less than five votes is automatically placed on the docket for the following week. Councilor Andrew Zarro pointed out that because of the three absences, it is unlikely the issue would have been resolved even without a postponement.

The proposal would mean that city hotels with at least 40 rooms would add a charge of about 1.5% to guests’ bills to fund marketing efforts.

The fees would primarily go to Visit Portland, the destination marketing organization for Greater Portland, and more than double the agency’s current annual budget, Executive Director Lynn Tillotson has said previously.

Portland’s tourism marketing budget has historically been lower than other cities of a similar size. This initiative would make the budget for Visit Portland comparable to marketing budgets for cities like Boise, Idaho, and Newark, New Jersey.

Kristen Dow, director of the city’s Department of Health and Human Services, updated councilors on the clearing of the Fore River encampment Wednesday morning. She said every person in the encampment was offered shelter ahead of the sweep, but when city officials arrived to clear the camp, 48 people remained there. The council has scheduled an encampment workshop for Sept 14.

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