Members of the Prowers Lodging Tax Panel maintained their focus on finances during their February 16th meeting. Five event requests had been carried over from the previous meeting and funding was provided for each of them last Tuesday. Another topic that was briefly mentioned last month received more discussion by board members; President Pat Palmer had asked them to consider a funding cap for future requests. Some events have had a fairly large price tag for marketing and contract fees, ranging from $40,000 years ago to secure several Babe Ruth World Series Events, to a recent request of $32,000 paid over two years to host the state high school rodeo championships in Lamar. As the Panel’s annual budget for funding averages around $70,000 to $80,000; some larger requests can quickly diminish funds for the rest of the year.
Palmer said one idea for a cap was $5,000 per day for large population events, in the neighborhood of 1,000 people. “The Sand and Sage Concert is a one day event and that would be limited to $5,000,” he suggested to the Panel. A two day rodeo event with the same attendance level would be $10,000 for funding limits. The small events would be funded at $2,000 a day, such as the Wild West BBQ Contest or the Lamar Days Rod Run would be eligible for $4,000 or $2,000 a day as it’s a two day event.
Panel member, Brad Semmens asked why have a cap at all, “Why can’t we just decide that each time we vote?” He added, “Wouldn’t the requests just go to the limit of the cap?” Panel office manager, Carla Scranton said the cap would be used as a guideline for groups making future requests and the size would be regulated by the size of a venue as some events just couldn’t be quantified by a headcount of people attending.
Another thought put forth was that some annual events, after two or three years, should be earning enough funding to reduce or eliminate repeated marketing requests from the Panel. County Commissioner, Ron Cook, who produces the Oktoberfest Rod Run and Lamar Days Car Show, said if he charged participants, he probably wouldn’t need Lodging Panel Funds, but that increased the risk of seeing fewer people taking part in each annual event. “I also have 26 merchants who help me with this funding for the car show and those participants, while they’re here also spend money in town, helping the community’s economy,” he explained.
A suggestion was made to review past actual funding requests over a year, to compare how much money would have been allocated if the funding guidelines were in place with a cap limit. Scranton said she would be able to provide some initial figures for the panel at the March 15th meeting.
Steps are also underway to change the Panel’s email address to one that falls more in line with its title. Scranton said PCDI, is moving its procolorado.org email over to the Prowers County general email as a tremendous amount of spam mail had been received. She said a money-saving measure would be to adopt a new address for the Panel, using lodgingtaxpanel@gmail and make the switch in the near future. A motion was approved for the change.
The five events that were approved for funding was the Lamar Days Car Show & Rod Run for $3,000; the June 11-12 Prairie Showdown received $2,500; The Colorado State HS Rodeo/SE Colo All-Stars Team had requested $8,000, but was awarded $5,000, the same as they received last year; The Wild West BBQ Cook-Off received $2,000 and the Lamar Baseball Booster Club Baseball Tournament set for April 30-May 1, received $1,650 for a total of $14,150. The Booster Club Tournament and Prairie Showdown are new events in the community.
By Russ Baldwin
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