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Okanogan considers hotel-motel tax distributions

— The City Council is considering more than $30,000 in requests for shares of the 2014 hotel-motel tax pie.

The city gave $15,500 to various groups and businesses during 2013. It expects to have around $18,000 available to allocate next year.

Hotel-motel money comes from a tax on lodging establishments within the city. The money can be used only for specific tourist-related purposes, including advertising.

Requests for 2014 came from Okanogan Visitor Information Center, $3,687, down from $3,828.91 authorized in 2013; The Chronicle, $3,284, up from $2,620; Okanogan County Historical Museum, $4,000, up from $2,200; Okanogan County Tourism Council, share of taxes, 2013 amount was $1,200; Okanogan Chamber of Commerce, $3,870, up from $1,600; Okanogan-Ferry County chapter of Washington Pilots Association, $500, unchanged from 2013; Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus, $14,000, none requested in 2013; city of Okanogan, $1,200, up from $1,051.09.

Each group was asked to specify how the money would be used. Written requests submitted to the council include:

  • Okanogan Chamber of Commerce – Pay for two staff members during the summer.
  • Chronicle – City advertising in Vacationland tourism guide, InfoBook community guide, Fishrapper fishing information section, and the snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle guides.
  • Okanogan County Historical Society – Skylights for pioneer village building to make displays easier to see, landscaping, security lights, exterior painting, repairs to antique water fountain.
  • Okanogan County Tourism Council – Advertising, promotional guides, website.
  • Okanogan Chamber of Commerce – Advertising for community festivals and events.
  • Okanogan and Ferry counties chapter of Washington Pilots Association – Support for association tourism booth at Northwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show in Puyallup.
  • Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus – Advertising and promotion of 2013-14 season performances and spring musical “The Wizard of Oz.”

The city will evaluate requests based on how well they meet several criteria, including promotion of multi-day events encouraging people to spend one or more nights in the city, promotion of single-day events that encourage overnight stays and operating expenses for groups that “enhance the visiting experience” of travelers to the city, the city’s funding priorities resolution said.

The city said it cannot issue funding to non-profit organizations for capital expenses, only for operating expenses.

Requests were referred to the council’s Business and Tourism Committee for recommendation for inclusion in the 2014 budget. Recommendations could be available Nov. 19.

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