Port Angeles approves lodging tax earmarks for 2014

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — On a 4-3 vote, City Council members have approved $605,800 in city lodging tax funding requests for 2014 — including an increase for the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The council approved an additional $31,000 of lodging tax revenue, which brings the city’s expected total contributions to the chamber to $340,000 for 2014, up 10 percent from $309,000 this year.

Marketing plan

The chamber won’t receive $216,000 of the money earmarked for it until the executive director of the chamber, Russ Veenema, submits a detailed marketing plan and it is approved by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and the City Council.

The sequestration was part of the 2014 budget the council approved earlier this month.

Veenema said he will present the marketing plan at the Jan. 6 meeting of the lodging tax committee.

The chamber was allocated $309,000 — the same it was given this year — in the 2014 budget that the council approved Dec. 3.

That was a “placeholder” until the council could consider lodging tax committee recommendations, said Nathan West, the city’s community and economic development director.

Although the committee made the recommendations during an Oct. 24 meeting, the council had to wait 45 days by state law to consider the recommendations, West said.

Council members approved the 2014 budget roughly 40 full days after the Oct. 24 advisory committee meeting.

So the council members still must consider an amendment to the budget to include the lodging tax allocations that were approved Tuesday night.

Divided vote

Deputy Mayor Brad Collins and council members Patrick Downie, Dan Di Guilio and Brooke Nelson voted for the lodging tax allocation recommendations, with Mayor Cherie Kidd and council members Sissi Bruch and Lee Whetham opposed.

Bruch and Kidd said they would like to see a more detailed plan on the use of the additional $31,000 for the chamber before they were comfortable voting for the recommendations.

“Let’s pause, let’s re-evaluate, let’s have some conversations [and] come back with a strategic vision on where we’re going and how we’re going to do it,” Kidd said.

Veenema said Wednesday the additional $31,000 mostly would go toward restarting Port Angeles-centric TV commercials aimed at the Seattle and Victoria markets.

Kidd said Wednesday she is not “picking on” the chamber, explaining that city budget discussions have focused on scrutinizing numerous areas of city spending.

“Is this increase what we want to be doing right now as we rein in all of our expenditures?” Kidd asked.

“It’s not just the chamber. The chamber is a small part of the big picture we’re looking at.”

Other allocations

Other allocations include:

■ $150,000 for a new Vern Burton Community Center gym roof.

■ $62,000 for city-run sports tournament costs.

■ $20,000 for the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

■ A $20,300 contribution to a 2008 city water main project that included work to preserve the historic underground portions of downtown Port Angeles.

■ A $10,000 contribution for the purchase of a large event tent, requested by the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts and the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival.

Nelson said she relies heavily on the recommendations the city’s appointed advisory committees present and trusts the lodging tax committee did due diligence on these recommendations.

Bruch said she, too, trusts the advisory committee but that members do not necessarily have a “global view” of the city’s fiances like the council does.

“Under that big umbrella, I can’t support this,” Bruch said.

Lodging tax revenue for Port Angeles is generated from stays at hotels and motels within the city limit.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 18. 2013 5:27PM
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