SAFFE Day nets $8,000 in tourism tax funding, tied to documentary production

Reprinted from KilgoreNewsHerald.com, Oct. 13, 2015

After more than two months of wrangling with a finite pool of public funding for hotel and tourism promotion, Kilgore City Council members adopted two sets of Hotel Occupancy Tax recommendations Tuesday.

Taking the values suggested by the city’s HOT Advisory Board, the council approved (on a 4-0 vote with one abstention) the disbursement of $351,000 local hotels and motels are projected to collect on a seven percent room tax in the next 12 months.

In addition to a $170,000 contract agreement with the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce (and a linked $8,000 addendum for SAFFE Day), the approved shares of Fiscal Year 2016 estimated HOT collections include $60,000 for East Texas Oil Museum, $32,576 for East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, $30,000 for Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation, $17,104 for Texas Shakespeare Festival, $10,500 for the Rangerette Museum & Showcase, $10,000 each for Kilgore College Athletics and the East Texas Oilmen’s Chili Cook-off and $2,820 for Kilgore Community Concert Association.

“State law says that we must ensure that they are spending it in compliance with the tax code,” Selleck reminded the council before the vote. Individual organizations are encouraged – but not required – to collaborate with the chamber, the city’s tourism contractor, to bolster overall marketing efforts. Also, “We’re working on a mandatory tagline that would be used on all marketing materials.”

Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon said he was reluctant to change any of the values considering the amount of time the HOT board and the agencies spent developing the recommendations.

“It’s been gone through with a fine-toothed comb,” agreed council member Lori Weatherford, who represents the city on the HOT panel, “both the legalities and the regulations.”

That’s the point of the advisory board, McClendon noted.

“It’s taken several years to get to this point where everything seems balanced and there’s a reason for it,” Spradlin noted.

Executive director of the oil museum, council member Merlyn Holmes did not participate in Tuesday’s HOT discussion and abstained from the vote.

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