It took a couple of tries, but the Spokane Valley City Council finally got around Tuesday to approving a list of lodging tax allotments for 2015.
In December, the council flatly refused a first go-around of recommendations by its appointed Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. At the time, the council felt the committee too heavily favored city of Spokane-based organizations such as Visit Spokane and the Spokane Sports Commission while giving short shrift to Valley-based destinations such as Valleyfest and the Heritage Museum.
The council also was chagrined that the committee – whose recommendations can only be voted thumbs up or down by the council, not modified under state law – gave no love to expanding the sand volleyball courts at Browns Park.
The committee reconvened on Feb. 25 and figured out a new way to disperse $570,000 collected from a 2-percent tax raised from area hotel and motel stays that more closely mirrored the council’s intention to draw more tourists to Spokane Valley.
Receiving funding are:
- Visit Spokane, $230,000 (original committee recommendation, $256,000)
- Spokane Valley volleyball courts, $68,000 (originally $0)
- CenterPlace, $17,000 (originally $15,000)
- Fair and Expo Center marketing, $30,000 (originally $28,000)
- Fair and Expo interim marketing, $8,000 (originally $8,000)
- Fair and Expo exotic animal display, $6,000 (originally $6,000)
- Valleyfest, $31,600 (originally $20,000)
- Spokane Sports Commission, $120,000 (originally $185,000)
- Spokane River Forum, $1,000 (originally $1,000)
- Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $18,400 (originally $15,000)
- HUB Sports Center, $40,000 (originally $40,000)
Council Member Ben Wick – who sits on the committee with two members who represent groups who receive funding along with two others who represent businesses that generate the tax – said it is a better compromise.
“I think it’s a good recommendation that addresses our council goals,” he said.
The council, however, is looking for more information on the Lodging Tax Committee’s recommendation to raise the amount of tax collected by another 1.3 percent. If applied, combined with other applicable sales and lodging taxes imposed upon the sale of lodging, would equal 12 percent, the total amount allowed by the state.
If the council were to approve the action, the extra 1.3 percent lodging tax would be placed into a separate account generating about $331,500 a year and dedicated for “a large sporting venue or venues for tourism facilities that generate overnight guests.”
Council members expressed concerns that the funds could be misused in the future. However, as with the dispersal of other lodging tax dollars, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee would first have to make a recommendation for any sort of project, like an arena, which would then have to be approved by the council.
The issue is expected to be revisited at the March 24 council meeting.