Growing Funding Requests Concerns Lodging Panel Board


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How much money is coming in versus how much funding has been requested has raised concerns among the board members of the Prowers County Lodging Tax Panel.

The board usually receives four quarterly annual payments from the state, based on receipts from the 2% tax levied on all rented motel rooms in Prowers County.  Board members have some idea of when the payments will come and a general idea, based on past payments, of how large they will be, but it’s never an exact science.  The past payment received was for $26,523 and was made in November.  Members have noted that the size of the monetary requests for funding events are increasing, but they aren’t receiving precise accounts from the organizations, of how many people are renting rooms for an event, a prime stipulation noted in the funding request form.  The application form requests that a financial report must be submitted to the Panel within 45 days following the conclusion of an event showing how the funding was used.  The Panel also requests the number of motel rooms rented by visitors brought to the community for the event.  That part has been difficult to track.

Six requests this past Tuesday, February 17, totaled $32,164 while the Panel had just over $18,000 in funds with the expectation of a deposit payment in March.  Not all of the requests are used specifically for advertising and marketing, as contract fees have been included which have been deemed allowable by the county and within the Panel’s by-laws.  Sometimes the contract fees outweigh the advertising budget.  The increasing amount of the requests has become a point of concern for the Panel along with the lack of a specific accounting for a return on investment, based on the number of motel rooms an event develops.  There is some leeway on the annual calendar, as some funding requests are made months in advance of an event, usually because entertainment has to be booked well ahead of a performance.  The Panel can approve the funding, contingent on there being sufficient money in the account when the check gets written.

The panel is also developing ideas for more pin-point advertising using social media and websites from a group of state-based newspapers to which the Lamar Ledger belongs.  The more distance a visitor travels to attend a Prowers County event, the more likely they are to rent a room for the night instead of doing a one-day, round trip back home.  For that reason, the Panel is exploring an on-going, $1,000 monthly budget using the newspaper network to focus directly on the interests of readers far removed from the immediate southeast Colorado region, based on the nature of the event such as a car show or airplane acrobatics.  The Panel is also considering reducing future advertising requests by a percentage, to cover the costs of the monthly fee as each future event would be included in the package.

Ruthie Esgar, Panel member and owner of Bettianne’s, asked regarding some activities, “Why aren’t some of these events being planned for the downtown area where people can come and shop the local merchants?”  She noted that past events such as Lamar Days, that had once been located downtown or by the Lamar Chamber, had been moved to Willow Creek Park and as such, downtown merchants were not able to attract shoppers to their stores.

This month’s requests before the Panel included:  the Tri-State 9/11 Tribute requested an additional $1,000 for television advertising for a total of $2,500 and received $2,000.  The Colorado High School Rodeo-Southeast Colorado All-Stars requested $10,000 which was a $2,000 increase over last year and received $5,000.  The Lamar Fly-In received $2,000 last year and requested $14,464 for marketing and contract fees and their request was tabled.  Peter Page, of the Lamar Airport Board, explained that due to last year’s popularity of the show, four aerobatic performers were being booked and the contract fees were $3,000 each.  The balance of his request was for advertising, marketing and website ads.  He told the Panel that at least 25 Red Star Pilots would be in Lamar for five days of in-formation flight training and additional motel rooms would be booked compared to last year’s event.  The Southeast Colorado Diversified Council’s Festival on the Plains and Wild West BBQ each requested $2,000 and each received $1,600.  The Arkansas Valley Horse Pullers event requested $1,500 and received $1,200.  Some events such as the Tribute and Fly In will be held in September, while the SCDC, BBQ and Horse Pullers event are set for May.  The Panel also has a $7,000 balance on hold from the $19,000 requested late last year by the Sand and Sage Concert organizers.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: ArtBusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEntertainmentEventsFeaturedFestivalLamarProwers CountyRecreationTourism


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