The Ocean Shores Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) voted 3-1 Tuesday to help out the 12’s Fan Fest and Beach Party, after it was reported that a key sponsor of the Aug. 17-19 event was not providing as much support as planned.
The request to help out the 12’s Fan Fest by promoter Dan Lang is for $8,000-$10,000 of the LTAC-related funds.
The committee normally meets yearly in September to review applications for the revenue that comes from the city’s proceeds from hotel-motel taxes. The City Council on April 23 voted to change the LTAC bylaws to allow it to consider so-called emergency requests, such as the one from the 12’s Fan Fest.
In announcing the need for the action, Mayor Crystal Dingler said the Seahawks fan festival “has lost or appears to have lost some of its funding.” It was learned at the LTAC meeting on Tuesday that Quinault Beach Resort & Casino was not going to fund up to 22 rooms it provided in the past, and was looking for the city to help with funding this year.
Dingler told the City Council that LTAC-related funds are left over from last year “that we did not expend, and we could use those monies throughout the year for emergency sorts of things or things that just happen.”
“It seems to me this is a good thing to look at,” Dingler said.
The change made by the council allows the LTAC to consider a “proposal from a qualified entity” in an emergency or unexpected situation within two weeks of receiving a proposal “in order to make a recommendation to the City Council on whether or not to fund the proposal.”
“It gives us the ability to be a little more nimble than we have in the past,” Dingler said of the overall change in LTAC procedure.
The Fan Fest, which started in 2015, “brings a lot of people into Ocean Shores, and it’s something that we would like to keep coming to Ocean Shores,” Dingler said.
At the regular meeting, Council member Susan Conniry asked to clarify if the change in LTAC procedure also allows other events or entities to make a similar request should such a need arise.
“I think it would be a good thing if we did have that available to use throughout the year,” Dingler said, noting that any request would have to meet the city’s criteria for being related directly to tourism and bringing people to Ocean Shores.
The final decision on the request still has to be approved by the City Council.
“I think it’s a very positive mechanism if we have the funds,” said Council member Bob Peterson. Council member Jon Martin, the city representative on the LTAC who voted for the proposal, said he believes the committee should meet more than once a year. Piper Leslie of the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce was the only LTTAC member to vote no on the proposal.
“In businesses, there are always opportunities that come up later, and this will give us some flexibility,” Martin said.
The City Council continued to discuss what to do with a surplus of funds left over from closing the books on the 2017 budget, but they were told at a study session April 30 that some of the $850,000 already had been earmarked by the council.
City Finance Director Angela Folkers noted the bottom-line surplus is now $590,000.
The council approved $14,700 to continue a Parks Board project at North Bay Park that was not completed in 2017, $30,00 for a human resources specialist for a half year this year, $12,000 for a part-time information technology assistant, and $200,000 for the street maintenance and repair fund.
Folkers also shared information from the state Auditor’s Office about its preference that the city pay off remaining interfund debt at a faster pace.
“They made a recommendation to pay them off timely and to consider using General Fund monies,” she said.
Council member Holly Plackett continued to advance her proposal to take part of the surplus and reduce the ambulance utility rates, previously enacted by the council, for a period of a year, then restore them back to the current rate.
“At the time we did our budget, we didn’t know we would have a surplus,” Plackett said.
Most of the council members seemed to favor paying off debt, such as the city’s own outstanding road LID obligation. The final decisions likely will be made May 14.