New changes for lodging tax

Community organizations eager for Lodging Tax Advisory Committee funds can dream up proposals with a bigger budget thanks to the City Council’s decision to raise the maximum proposal limit from $15,000 to $100,000.

After another hard year in a slow economy the council hopes the broader parameters will encourage creativity and larger-scale tourism related projects.

The lodging tax is a 2 percent tax levied by the state on all overnight stays within city limits, and is doubled by the state and returned to the city. The money is given to organizations to promote tourism.

The city will dole out approximately $150,000 worth of LTAC funds for 2012 projects. The city dispersed $125,000 worth of Lodging Tax funds among 14 community organizations, including the city last year.

Last year, each of the recipients were permitted to submit a proposal for no more than $15,000 worth of the funds. This year’s application limit is $100,000, and the requirement is again waived for applicants to set aside 50 percent of the funds for  capital expenditures.

“It has been a tough year economically so we are looking for very creative ideas to help with tourism,” said Councilor and LTAC Chair Kim Brackett.

In the past LTAC applicants have joined forces to apply for a larger pot of money in order to create projects with bigger budgets.

“Business people are in desperate need for strategic promotional activities and many are hoping that LTAC funds will be used [for that purpose],” said Councilor Barry Peters.

The city will continue to collect lodging tax receipts for the 2012 budget through the end of the year so the official amount of funds available for projects is not yet known.

Organizations can look for the applications to be available in the next two to three weeks.

Brackett said that the committee will consider allowing the applicants to present their proposal as it was well received among applicants last year. Award winners will be announced before the end of the year.

LTAC appointments

This year’s volunteer committee will include Wini Jones, Claudia McKinstry, Lynda McMaken, Bill Moskin, Julie Schulte and Sheri Watson. The seventh member and chair is Brackett.

Shulte and McKinstry both represent voting members of the committee and are representatives of the businesses required to collect the lodging tax as owners of a beach cottage and bed and breakfast. Moskin and Watson are voting members representing the organizations eligible for funding. Moskin is an arts consultant with experience in planning, leadership training and cultural tourism. Watson is a real estate agent and a long-time island resident.

Jones and McMaken represent the community at-large and are non-voting members.

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