Spokane Valley council awards lodging tax grants
The Spokane Valley City Council awarded several organizations funding through its lodging tax to promote tourism.
City Council approved more than $242,000 at its Dec. 11 council meeting to 10 organizations, including the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, Valleyfest, HUB Sports Center and Visit Spokane.
Spokane Valley in 2003 implemented a 2 percent lodging tax, which is collected from hotel stays and used to promote tourism.
The city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee initially approved allocations for more than $375,000 in funding for 11 organizations and $250,000 to the city’s 1.3 percent lodging tax fund, which is dedicated to a large sports venue or tourism facilities that draw in overnight guests.
The LTAC – comprised of one council member, two representatives from businesses collecting the tax, and two representatives from organizations that are authorized to receive the tax – recommends to the City Council which organizations should receive funding based on a combination of applications and a presentation by each applicant.
The City Council is presented with two allocation options under state law: to approve some or all of the recipients and amounts recommended by LTAC or reject the entire recommendation and return it to the committee for reconsideration.
If the City Council rejects one or more of the awarded amounts, the money is kept in the lodging tax fund to be awarded next year.
The Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, the HUB Sports Center and Visit Spokane received the largest amount of funding from lodging tax at $55,000, $52,000 and $48,000, respectively.
The Spokane Sports Commission was allocated $108,000 in LTAC’s original proposal, but the City Council voted to reduce that amount to zero dollars.
Spokane Valley City Councilwoman Brandi Peetz said council members discussed allocations and the question arose on where the money goes.
“One of the goals we put forth this year is wanting to keep the money in the Valley as it’s been mentioned,” she said. “For me personally, I would support this because we’re trying to cultivate Valley heads in beds and get people here to come to our events.”
Spokane Valley City Councilman Ben Wick said he was confused about how the LTAC committee came up with different recommendations for Visit Spokane and the Spokane Sports Commission.
“While I don’t like the $108,000 recommendation, the zero also kind of hurts, too,” he said, referencing the Spokane Sports Commission’s funding allocation. “I know we don’t have very many options. In my mind, it would have been nice to of had them be more equal in funding amounts.”
Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard said he would have liked to see the Spokane Sports Commission receive funding, but doesn’t understand why they would be awarded $108,000 from the city, when they already are generating about $44,000 in revenue.
“If we’re not going to support the (Spokane) Sports Commission, I would have quite preferably, see the HUB get more money, so they can continue to pull groups and tournaments to their location,” he said. “However, we are also limited by what people apply for. So, if there’s no application, you certainly can’t give it to another organization, whether we’d like to or not.”