Spokane Valley City Council members seemed generally satisfied with a list of lodging-tax funding recommendations Tuesday night.
But at least one council member is not pleased with the process.
Until 2013, the council had much more flexibility with how it dispersed a 2-percent tax collected on hotel stays in the city. Each year, a council-appointed Lodging Tax Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the council on how to fund organizations that in some way promote tourism and/or generate “heads in beds” at local hotels.
Up until 2013, the council could alter the suggested amounts. However, the Legislature ruled that year that municipalities can only accept or reject the committee’s allotment choices.
Last year, the council tossed out the first round of committee recommendations, saying it did not give sufficient funds to Spokane Valley destinations like Valleyfest and the Heritage Museum, nor did it emphasize the in-development sand volleyball courts at Browns Park. A revised list was finally approved in March.
This time, it appears that the approval process will go smoother. However, Council Member Ed Pace groused Tuesday that he does not appreciate how the current system is set up.
“I like what the committee did, but I feel that business should be responsible for their own marketing – not the government,” Pace said. “Government should not be in the tourism business.”
He added that he hopes the city would lobby for a return to the previous system where the allotments are “decided by the council and not the committee” and an emphasis on funding organizations that put heads in beds.
The committee is made up of one council member – currently Ben Wick – along with representatives of businesses that collect the tax and those authorized to be funded by it.
The recommended allotments for 2015 total $560,000 and include:
- HUB Sports Center, $40,000
- Spokane valley Heritage Museum, $17,200
- Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation, $60,650
- Spokane Sports Commission, $121,600
- Spokane County Fair and Expo Center (marketing), $45,000
- Valleyfest, $28,900
- Valleyfest Cycle Celebration, $3,000
- Spokane Valley Economic Development, $80,000
- Visit Spokane, $163,650
The council is scheduled to make its final approval on the list Dec. 8.