Comic Con to appeal funding denial to Victoria City Council

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 17, 2014 at 6:15 p.m.

The name of the game is stretching dollars.

The arts, sports and history groups looking for financial support from Victoria City Council are poised to receive less than in previous years.

With $400,000 to work with, the seven-person hotel occupancy tax committee sorted through $873,890 in requests. No group received its full request, and two are recommended to be denied funding.

Victoria City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday to vote on the recommendations.

Councilman Andrew Young said nothing is set in concrete.

"Every entity and organization is important to Victoria and makes us a better community," Young said. "To say one is more worthy than another has got to be an incredibly daunting task, and there's going to be feelings hurt. ... I wish we could fund everybody."

The funding comes from a tax that hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast guests pay on rented rooms. The city is restricted in the way it can spend that revenue; a primary purpose is to promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry.

Megan Booth, an organizer for Victoria Comic Con, filed the paperwork Friday to appeal the recommendation.

The committee recommended not funding the comic book convention, which is not a registered nonprofit. The group had requested $10,000, a quarter of their total budget.

Booth said she and dozens of supporters, friends and die-hard comic book fans will be at Tuesday's meeting hoping to change the city council's mind.

"I'm all about bringing people to Victoria," Booth said. "I was born and raised here, and I plan to stay here and help this city grow."

In its first year, several thousand attended the convention, which took place Jan. 11 at the Victoria Community Center.

Booth said the $10,000 would help cover costs to add programming and make it a two-day event. The funding would also help expand the event to the dome and annex at the center.

The event will cap attendance at 5,000, she said. She expects between 50 and 75 of the vendors would stay in hotels during the event.

Councilman Young said Warrior's Weekend is also planning an appeal.

Warrior's Weekend requested $20,000. The committee recommended the event not receive funding.

Theatre Victoria is poised to receive the largest share of hotel tax funding. The organization requested $95,000 from the committee. The committee settled on $60,000.

The Victoria TX Indie Film Festival, which made its request under Victoria Performing Arts Center Inc., asked for the largest share of funding - $150,000. The committee is recommending it be approved for $45,000, about half of what it received last year.

Councilman Jeff Bauknight said he has a little bit of trouble about the $25,000 recommendation to the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts. The facility is owned by Victoria College, a taxing entity with its own foundation.

He said the foundation "would easily be able to grant" any projects the college wanted to take on at the center.

Young said the council will listen to each appeal and consider each recommendation.

With only so much funding available, someone always comes out on the short end, Young said.

"They ask for the moon, which is no problem," Young said. "They can ask away, but there is only so much to go around."



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