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Lodging Tax Panel Receives Timely, Hefty Payment

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Not that the Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel was absent any funds, but their October payment from the state of $28,874 helped fund some recent requests and added to their contingency fund.

“This is the largest payment we received from the state all year,” said Carla Scranton, Panel Business Manager, “we knew it was coming and historically it usually is sizeable as it corresponds to motel use through the summer.” The payments to the Panel from the state are based on a 2% lodging tax on motel room usage in Prowers County and are paid out quarterly.  The payment put the current balance at $35,593, not counting the $14,000 held in a contingency fund.  That sum was lessened by the end of the meeting, as the Panel acted on several requests put before them during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 15th.

Rose Ann Yates, representing the Southeast Colorado Two-Shot Goose Hunt, requested $10,000 to cover marketing expenses for the annual event which is held between the last week of November and start of December. This year marks the 50th year that hunting teams from around the region are headquartered in Lamar for the event which will run from November 30th to December 2nd.  “For the second year, we’ve expanded the number of teams that participate to 13, bringing more people to Lamar that now stay a day longer,” she explained.  The funding from the Panel will be used to cover expenses for marketing, contract fees for guides and similar necessities.  The Panel approved the full amount requested.

Although the annual Holly Bluegrass Festival won’t be held until June of next year, Carla Scranton represented festival organizer Marge Creech who was not able to attend the Tuesday meeting. The annual event, the only free, three-day bluegrass festival held in three states, is held each June in the Holly town park.  The open air event brings visitors from around the region to take part in the Friday jam session and the main musical event on Saturday.  2017 will mark the 16th year of the concert which features five bands and a gospel oriented performance on Sunday.  Although some Panel members felt that the marketing could cover a wider area, the full amount requested, $2,500, was approved as a future pledge that will be issued in 2017, 90 days out from the concert.

The members pledged $1,200 from the board expenses fund for a regional tourism project outlined by Panel President Pat Palmer. “Canyons and Plains is working to organize a tourism industry seminar which will also bring in four additional counties in southeast Colorado next year.  We plan to meet in May to hold a three day conference which will focus on developing tourism interests for southeast Colorado in areas of history/heritage, watchable wildlife and agriculture.  Each county would contribute $1,200 to help fund the conference for 150 participants.”  Palmer noted this is only in the planning stages at this point. The attendees will be tourism event planners or who are affiliated with the industry such as state welcome center managers or the Colorado Tourism Office.

Panel member, Doug Thrall, resumed discussion about adding to the contingency fund from the previous month. Members have had concerns about running short of funding for any new projects that come before them through the year.  Most of the requests are yearly repeats of past events for which the Panel can anticipate when establishing their budget.  There is concern that some new projects may not be able to be funded if the budget is running short on the balance, hence the $14,000 set aside in the contingency fund.  After some discussion, members moved $3,874 into the fund.  The final Lodging Tax Panel meeting of the year is set for December 20th at the PEP business office.

By Russ Baldwin

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