Council approves LTAC funding recommendations

  • Tue Oct 29th, 2019 4:30pm
  • News

By Scott D. Johnston

For the Grays Harbor News Group

At its Oct. 14 meeting, the Ocean Shores City Council approved the recommendations of the local Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) to award a total of $36,000 to five applicants, along with $865,411 for operations, maintenance and repairs and debt payment for the Ocean Shores Convention Center.

Approved were:

• The Ocean Shores Marketing Co-op, $10,000 for the yearlong Ocean Shores 50th Anniversary Celebration.

• $10,000 for the Superhero Music Festival

• $9,000 for the Sand & Sawdust Festival

• $5,000 for Grays Harbor Youth Athletics, which produces a free football camp in Hoquiam with college and NFL players and alumni each summer, and fund-raising golf tournament and dinner/auction events in Ocean Shores.

• $2,000 for participation in the Olympic Culinary Loop’s marketing and promotions.

The funding comes from a lodging tax on rooms rented locally, and most of it goes each year to the Convention Center, with remaining amounts awarded to events, promotions and organizations that are working to put “heads in beds.” The amount of LTAC funds is currently projected to be down by around $75,000 compared with last year, primarily due to tax receipts being involved in bankruptcy proceedings involving the Shilo Inn.

The 4-3 vote approving the recommended distribution of LTAC monies for 2020 had Council members Jon Martin, Susan Conniry and Kathryn Sprigg opposing the measure. Steve Ensley, Bob Peterson, Eric Noble and Lisa Griebel voted in favor.

Each no voter said they were not opposed to the committee’s recommendations on where the money should go. But each wanted more time to consider how the city would deal with some of the applications that were turned down, that LTAC instead recommended the city itself fund.

These included Convention Center marketing and promotion, the Coastal Interpretive Center and the Visitors Information Center, which moved back to the Convention Center in August, following the collapse of the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce. LTAC also passed on helping two city-produced events, Hog Wild and the Razor Clam Festival, after Convention Center Manager Diane Solem told the committee she thinks those events can succeed without LTAC dollars.

The annual Labor Day weekend Paddle the Shores event was turned down after LTAC member and Oyhut Bay manager Pat Brunstad said the planned beach community toward the southern end of the Ocean Shores peninsula will step up to sponsor the event next year.

Local resident Don Williams complained that some of the designated recipients did not meet the legal requirement of being “destination marketing organizations.” LTAC chair Eric Noble said he felt the applicants met most of the requirements and that all of the things LTAC was recommending be funded were intended to attract overnight visitors to Ocean Shores.