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Lodging Tax Panel Meeting with County over Funding Changes

 

 

While continuing to provide funding for mostly annual events in Prowers County, the Lodging Tax Panel is seeking a ruling from the county on developing a different marketing outlet for promoting tourism for the county at large.

 

The idea has received lengthier considerations over the past year in an effort to drive more tourists to the county beyond annually scheduled events, some of which are showing declining attendance while their costs and requests are well above a return on investment. Panel funding comes from a 2% pillow tax on motel room rates throughout the county and are disbursed by the county based on a set of by-laws detailing what can and cannot be funded.  For the most part, purchased items, such as billboards or other tangible goods are not allowed.  The greater the draw of the event generating overnight stays at motels means more funding is developed for the Lodging Panel to fund other, future events.  Several years ago, contract fees for some events began to be funded.

 

 

The Panel is considering hiring a marketing firm which would conduct a study in the county to find what points of interest would generate tourists all year long and not just for a specific event. A website would be developed highlighting those points as well as other new means of advertising such as social media and other tourist interests.  The Panel and the county want to be on the same page about how their funds can be allocated and will meet July 23rd to discuss their options.  The representative for the promotion firm, VistaWorks, said grant funding is available to pay for some of these costs, but the window of opportunity closes in two weeks from the Panel’s last meeting held on July 16th.

 

Jane Felter, Panel President, said a 2020 budget presentation also needs to be made to the county commissioners in line with the Panel’s considerations.   Panel liaison, Commissioner Ron Cook, suggested, “The Panel needs to get on the agenda for the 23rd otherwise our next meeting will be past the grant deadline.  You’re talking about funds, changing the budget; perhaps have the county do a supplemental budget when this funding comes in, especially if it comes in 2019 and impacts this year’s budget, “he added, there will be less of a problem if the funding is received in 2020, but the talks with the commissioners are still needed.

 

Panel members voted to provide $10,000 for the annual Antelope Stampede as outlined by organizer, Cole Dorenkamp who had requested $13,000 for the October 3-6th event.  This is one of the better attended events.  “We had an estimated 360 contestants last year and are expecting close to 385 rooms to be rented for either two or three days,” he said.

 

Doug Harbour, representing the annual Tri-State 9/11 Tribute said the Saturday, September 7th event at the county fairgrounds should also see increased participants for the parade and fairground displays and activities.  “I’ve been in contact with some military organizations and we’re expecting an additional 50 to 100 out-of-towners who said they would plan to make the trip to Lamar,” he stated.  Harbour’s annual request of $2,000 for promotions and marketing was granted.

 

The Panel denied the $2,000 request from Carolyn Peyton for paint and supplies to have the Patriots of Santa Fe Trail decorate eight CDOT transformer traffic-light switch-boxes along Lamar’s Main Street. The main reason for the decline is the by-law criteria that stipulates funded events need to drive tourists to Prowers County and again, supplies for art work is not covered.  The next regular meeting of the Lodging Panel is Tuesday, August 20th at 4pm at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyEntertainmentFeaturedRecreationTourism

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