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City corner: State law limits use of hotel funds

Dec. 12, 2010 at 6:12 a.m.


By O.C. Garza

Police Chief Bruce Ure wants me to remind Victoria shoppers that car burglaries increase during the holiday shopping season. Don't forget to lock your car, take your keys and hide your possessions while shopping.

Can you spend hotel tax dollars on sidewalks, streets or other construction?

No. Hotel Occupancy Tax funds are paid by out-of-town visitors spending the night in local hotel rooms. By state law, HOT funds can be spent only on advertising that directly promotes tourism and the hotel industry; promotions of the convention industry that directly promote tourism and the hotel industry; promotion of the arts that directly promote tourism and the hotel industry; historical preservation that directly promotes tourism and the hotel industry; and promotion of sporting events that increase economic activity at hotels. Use of HOT funds for any other purpose is illegal.

I understand the library is in the running for a $10,000 prize. How can I get information on it and where can I vote?

Out of the hundreds of libraries across the country that entered the contest, our Victoria Public Library is one of 10 finalists for a $10,000 prize for the originality they showed in displaying their Playaway audio books. Our library is competing against some big libraries and could use all the votes they can get. That prize money can buy a lot of books, CDs and DVDs.

By the way, Playaways are one of the most popular new audiobook formats in the library; providing patrons the portability of a digital audiobook with the grab-and-go convenience that makes audiobooks accessible for everyone, regardless of age or ability. It is like a book on an MP3 player, and they have hundreds of titles.

The deadline to vote in the contest is Friday, so vote soon. To help the library, visit the city website at www.victoriatx.org and click on the Library link. Information about the contest and the voting site is on the library's home page.

What are the most common city code violations? Are most code violations reported by inspectors or the public?

Our most common code violations are probably what residents might expect. The first, is tall grass and weeds more than 12 inches tall. We get a lot of these violations after heavy rains and during the spring and fall. Junk vehicle violations are also very common. These are inoperable vehicles with expired registration or inspection stickers, and are wrecked, dismantled or partially dismantled. Trash and debris violations are more common than one might expect. Homeowners and tenants are responsible for maintaining the area between the street and house free of junk, brush, trash and debris. This includes the storage of any furniture not intended for outdoor use and appliances, tires or similar items. Most code enforcement violations are reported by neighbors and citizens either on the City web site at www.victoriatx.org, via e-mail at codecomplaints@victoriatx.org, or by calling 361-485-3330.

Does the Victoria police offer a home security survey?

Yes. Our Police Crime Prevention Unit offers a free security survey that evaluates the security of your home to reduce the chance of burglary. This survey inspects the type of lighting, windows, doors, locks and other security measures you have at your home. Some companies will reduce your home insurance rates if your property passes the inspection. Contact your insurance agent to verify whether or not they offer a reduction in home owner's insurance premiums if you have your home inspected. Then you will complete a checklist provided by the Victoria Police Department. After the list is completed, contact the Crime Prevention Office, 361-485-3808 to schedule a time for the inspection. After passing the inspection, the officer will give you a Texas Department of Insurance form for your insurance company.

Send your questions and comments for any city department or activity to City of Victoria, Public Information Office, P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902, or pio@victoriatx.org.

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