City opens application process for hotel occupancy tax funds

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

June 1, 2012 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated June 2, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.

Victoria organizations will have their chance this month to apply for funding to bring tourism to town.

The city is accepting applications for hotel occupancy tax dollars through June 30.

Under state law, the city collects a 7-percent hotel occupancy tax from hotels, bed and breakfasts and other lodging facilities paid by out-of-town visitors spending the night in local hotel rooms. The revenues may only be used to promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry.

Billie Loep, accounting manager with the city, said Victoria has already collected $967,990 in hotel occupancy taxes as of March 31.

She said the city was on target to reach its projected tax estimate of $1.8 million. The city budgeted $1.3 million in hotel occupancy tax dollars.

Joe Baugh, of the Cultural Council of Victoria, said the council has not decided whether to apply for funding.

"Everything's up in the air at the moment," Baugh said.

Last year, the total fund balance came to $766,258, but was thought in July to only total $472,828, making a difference of $293,430.

As of March 31, the original 2011 fiscal year motel tax fund budget was amended by $252,610: $35,660 went to the Main Street Program for historical and preservation projects; $18,620 to Victoria Symphony; $11,700 to Victoria Bach Festival; $60,000 to Victoria Performing Arts Center/Theatre Victoria; $43,150 to Victoria Performing Arts Center/Film Festival; $2,180 to Quilt Guild of Victoria; $31,000 to Victoria Ballet Theatre; $26,300 to Museum of the Coastal Bend; and $24,000 to Victoria Regional Museum Association.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director LaRue Roth said the city is fortunate to collect the funds.

"It's a great thing to have and I'm sure city leaders will look at that money and use it wisely," Roth said. "We need more hotel rooms to sell because the need is there."

She said Sunday through Thursday hotel stays are largely business travel. However, the weekend brings travelers interested in the area's culture and history, sporting events, festivals, weddings, reunions and more.

Priority for hotel occupancy tax funds will be given to applicants based on the heads in beds principal - their ability to bring in overnight visitors to Victoria. Only those events and programs that generate meaningful hotel night activity will be eligible to receive hotel occupancy tax funds.

All requests for funds must be submitted in writing and accompanied by the official application by June 30 to the occupancy fund committee, courtesy of the city attorney's office, 105 W. Juan Linn St.

The committee will review applications in July and recommendations will be made to the Victoria City Council in August.

Informational sessions about the occupancy funds application process is set for 10 a.m. June 13 and 20 at 700 Main Center, Room 204.



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