Lodging Panel Helps Fund ‘Hotter than Hell’ Music Jam

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Members of the Prowers Lodging Tax Panel approved $3,500 for a new event for downtown Lamar this July, called the “Hotter than Hell” music jam, sponsored by Lamar Partnership Inc.  The funds will be used for advertising and contract fees for some of the musical entertainment.  The original request was for $5,390 to cover most of those expenses.  Shawna Hodge and Rose Ann Yates explained that the music line up will feature mostly classic rock, but will include a mix of Latin and Blues music as well.  Yates said the event will be held along East Beech Street in Lamar and vendors and art displays will also be featured.  Shawna Hodge, Lamar’s Main Street Coordinator and executive director of LPI, said the city and the Colorado Main Street Community organization requires creation of an event that would benefit the local business climate among Main Street retailers.

Local music groups, JUDI and Little Wing will be coupled with the headliner group, Soul Sacrifice, out of Denver.  Other bands will perform between Noon and 10pm on the day of the event, set for July 19.  A beer garden will be set up along the Enchanted Forest and sponsorships are being offered to help offset the costs to host the event.  Coors and Budweiser are two of the national businesses that have been contacted at this point.  As this will be a first time event, the number of overnight visitors who would be renting motel rooms in Lamar is unknown.  That is the criteria by which funds are donated by the Lodging Panel, but it is understood that first time events cannot offer any history for overnight stays.

Panel members are still concerned with funding annual events that show a low return on investment through low motel numbers.  They have also expressed an on-going hope that some new projects or events could be developed which will attract visitors to Prowers County from outside the area.  The other area of concern continues to focus on the lack of ability to track which motel owners might be delinquent in their quarterly tax payments in the county.  The Panel’s funds are derived from a 2% lodging tax on any motel room rented in Prowers County.  The taxes are collected and mailed quarterly to the state, which in turn, sends the Panel’s funds to the county to be used through the year.  Panel members say there is too much lag time between payments to the state and return payments to the county, sometimes by as much as two months and with no general indication of accuracy on the amounts, balanced against the payments sent by motel owners to the state.  Some checks have been for $18,000 while others have been for $4.76.  The annual payments average around $70,000 to $80,000 a year with the fourth quarter payments arriving in March or April of the following year.  While the Panel has never run short of funds on the books, and are developing a contingency fund, they’ve expressed irritation at the lack of timely accounting on the part of the state.

Panel member, Brad Semmens, related how he managed to directly address the Panel’s concerns to Governor HIckenlooper while he was a guest for a talk radio show on KOA out of Denver.  Semmens explained the Panel’s predicament, which is identical to several other similar groups in five counties in the state.  Semmens shared an email he received from Donna Stepan, a Local Government Liaison who included statutes from the State Department of Revenue for lodging tax panels.  As it turns out, the state takes a 3 1/3% fee for administering each county’s lodging funds, information that was new to some local panel members.  One area open to them would be to hire an auditor to determine if proper payments were made to the state by motel owners.  One legislative remedy being considered would be to remove the state from the equation and have the county as the only administer of the funding.  That would have to be presented before state legislators for a vote of approval.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: ArtBusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEventsFeaturedLamarProwers CountyRecreationTourism

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