PO Lodging Tax Funds Come in at 70 Percent of Budgeted AmountOctober 15th, 2009 by Chris Henry
Advisory committee has forwarded its recommendations for 2010
awards to the city council.
By Chris Henry
Revenue from the City of Port Orchard’s lodging tax for 2009 will fall short of estimates made at the end of 2008.
The city expected to collect $93,000 in hotel/motel tax revenues, but with the downturn in the economy, a revised estimate shows the city will receive $64,577, about 70 percent of the original amount.
The city treasurer’s office told the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee of the shortfall in early September. The committee makes recommendations each year on distributing funds among a pool of applicants. Recipients must submit claims to the city to receive their allocations.
In light of the shortfall, the city council debated how to honor commitments to recipients. At one point they considered disbursing funds on a first-come-first-served basis. But on Tuesday they decided instead to distribute the funds proportionally.
“We wanted to do it in a fair and humane way,” said Fred Chang, chairman of the committee.
The city has asked recipients to submit claims no later than Oct. 27, so the total amount available can be calculated.
Lodging tax funds not claimed in any given year are rolled over into the following year. The city had $21,776 carry-over in funds that weren’t claimed last year. The council awarded these funds to four applicants not chosen in the first round. The amount of supplemental funds not yet claimed will be considered in the total yet to be distributed.
Mike Strube, chairman of the Port Orchard Chamber board of directors, said the lowered award did not come as a surprise. The chamber’s successful fundraising this year will help offset the loss of funds.
“I think we all knew, with the economy the way it was, that we may not see as much from lodging taxes,” said Strube. “It’s a little lower than I expected but we’ll roll with it.”
Chang said the council will encourage organizations that can make up the loss in other areas of their budgets to decline all or part of any funds yet to be claimed.
The city’s 2009 lodging tax recipients and the amount they were originally promised include the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce ($23,420), tourism and marketing duties performed by the city clerk ($20,000), Cedar Cove Days ($15,000), Fathoms ‘O Fun Festival ($10,500), Sidney Museum and Arts Association ($10,200), the Port Orchard Bay Street Association ($3,660), the Saints Car Club ($1,900) and the Port of Bremerton ($500).
Groups receiving awards from the supplemental fund include the city’s Festival of Chimes and Lights ($7,820), Concerts by the Bay ($5,000), foot ferry service for the Kitsap Harbor Festival ($4,400) and the city’s tourism committee ($3,000).
Notably left off the list of 2009 recipients was the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau. The council took the position that the VCB in recent years had fallen short in promoting Port Orchard. The VCB has since hired a new director.
The committee recently submitted its recommendations for 2010 lodging tax funds to the city council. According to Chang, 12 organizations made requests totaling $168,000. The city expects to bring in $61,000.
The committee ranked applicants based on how well they are seen to support tourism in the city. The VCB requested $20,000. Mayor Lary Coppola recommended $2,000. The committee has recommended the VCB receive $900.
“My sense was that they were a little skeptical of the VCB, but they did want to try and encourage them,” said Chang, who did not vote on the recommendation.
According to Chang none of the applicants were recommended to receive all of the funding they requested.