Local nonprofits that bring in tourists, such as the Sequim Irrigation Festival for events like its Strongman Competition, seen here in 2016, can apply for a new grant to help with some expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic through the City of Sequim. Applications are due by June 1. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Local nonprofits that bring in tourists, such as the Sequim Irrigation Festival for events like its Strongman Competition, seen here in 2016, can apply for a new grant to help with some expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic through the City of Sequim. Applications are due by June 1. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim starts grant to support tourism nonprofit groups

Applications due June 1

SEQUIM — A new grant from the City of Sequim aims to assist nonprofit tourism organizations in the Sequim area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sequim City Council members agreed Monday, 6-0 — with Troy Tenneson abstaining — to use up to $50,000 from the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee’s (LTAC) fund to support applicants in various ways with expenses and/or ways to adapt to state guidelines pertaining to the pandemic.

Barbara Hanna, Sequim communications and marketing director, said Monday there have been several internal staff discussions about the best way to support the local tourism industry. She met with the LTAC committee on May 4, when they narrowed the grant to help Sequim-area nonprofits with operations of a facility, expenses and/or adapting an event to new standards, such as making a facility safer with more sanitizing and increased cleaning.

Grants will be awarded up to $5,000 per chosen applicant.

Applications must be sent in by 4 p.m. June 1 to Hanna. Find applications online at www. sequimwa.gov or by calling 360-683-4139. Send applications by mail to Communications and Marketing Director, Barbara Hanna, 152 W. Cedar St., Sequim, WA 98382; or, by email to [email protected]

Applications will be considered at the LTAC committee meeting on June 8.

Sequim City Council will make final approvals on June 22.

If chosen, recipients will enter into a contract with the city and produce a follow-up report 90 days after receiving the grant.

Hanna said the LTAC committee felt comfortable with an initial $50,000 grant.

“Fifty-thousand felt right for a number of reasons,” she said. “We want to get a sense of need out there. A lot of the festivals we normally support have cancelled. Nobody knows what the future is going to look like.”

City staff report the Lodging Tax Fund started the year with $676,000 with an anticipated $120,000 disparity between revenues and expenses coming in this year, leaving the fund with about $556,000. If the full $50,000 is used for tourism support grants, about $506,000 would remain in the account.

LTAC funds are restricted for tourism, marketing and operations of special events, supporting operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities, and supporting operations of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by nonprofits.

Hanna said the fund has helped in recent years with streetscaping, adding amenities like purple seats around town and contributed to pickleball courts in Carrie Blake Community Park.

Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said he felt it was appropriate to look at worst-case scenarios for tourism projections, but he didn’t want the committee to get too conservative in funding because, “we can’t continually plan for the absolute worst.”

Ferrell added that he would like to use more of the LTAC fund because “it’s really an investment account.”

Hanna said there isn’t a restriction on how low the fund can go and that it’s remained high because it’s continued to grow each year in revenues.

She added that the grant could be revisited if city councilors wanted to do so.

For more information, visit www.sequimwa.gov or call 360-683-4139.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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