It’s become a bit of a holiday tradition at the dais of the Spokane Valley City Council chambers: approve a list of committee-recommended lodging tax allotments – but only do so after some grumblings that would make Scrooge proud.
On Tuesday night, the council once again engaged in this annual ritual, with some members bemoaning that the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum did not receive a bit more monetary love from the council-appointed Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Last year, the museum received $17,200 and this year only $9,500 will be awarded.
But to change that amount, the council would have had to roll the dice by denying the recommended amount and sending it back to the committee with no guarantees that more money would actually be granted.
Until 2013, the council could alter the amounts suggested by the committee. However, that year the state Legislature ruled that municipal governments can only accept or reject the committee’s choices. And, oftentimes, the committee’s choices lean more toward organizations that generate “heads in beds” at local hotels, as the funding is collected on a 2-percent tax on hotel stays.
The council does have the option, however, to fund all, some or none of the organizations – it just can’t change the amounts.
If the City Council had decided to opt for a new round of application reviews, the funding might not be approved until late March or early April of next year.
“We would go through the same process, and we could receive numerous applications from numerous entities looking for that money,” Calhoun said.
“We could send all of them back, we could send a couple of them back, but there’s no guarantee the Lodging Tax Committee would fund he museum more,” Munch said. “It’s not up to us.”
Council Member Ed Pace made no secret of Visit Spokane’s efforts to market the Valley area and attempted to amend the motion to fund the tourist-generation organization zero dollars. That move didn’t receive any council support.
“The hoteliers like Visit Spokane,” Council Member Sam Wood said. “They feel it’s a benefit to them.”
At that point, the council decided to approve the committee’s recommendations for a total of $354,000:
- HUB Sports Center, $40,000
- Valleyfest, $31,600
- Valleyfest Cycle Celebration, $5,000
- Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $9,500
- Spokane Sports Commission, $115,600
- Spokane County Interstate Fair, $47,000
- Spokane County Fair and Expo (Winter Glow), $2,170
- Visit Spokane, $103,130
In other news, the council also approved the adoption of the update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and renewals to its street maintenance and street sweeping contracts.