The Silver City Town Council will discuss lodger’s tax disbursements this evening, and their decisions will likely be based in large part on recommendations made by the Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board. The board’s recommendations are available from the town’s Web site, or you can find a copy here copy here (Adobe reader required).
Two things stuck out to me when I was reading the document yesterday. The first may be a minor quibble, but the second really got my attention.
Last year, some of the money from the lodger’s tax fund went unspent. The board suggested this rollover, totaling almost $10,000, be given to the Chamber of Commerce. The board already advocated $121,000 for the chamber, which is the same amount as last year. The problem, for me, is the number of organizations the board said should not receive funding this year, especially since the town sought additional applicants. The city set out to spread the money around, but it seems nobody told the advisory board. Couldn’t some of that $10,000 go to the new applicants?
The second issue is the basis for the recommendations themselves. When I spoke with town manager Alex Brown yesterday, he said the requirement for an organization seeking funds would be the group’s actions leading to more bodies in hotel and motel beds. Lodger’s taxes are, to a certain degree, cyclical; they’re an investment.
Reading through the recommendations, it seems as though the board has a tacit requirement all its own: applicants have to be affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce. Six applicants received funding to “develop a Web site with links to the Chamber,” including the Silver City Farmers’ Market; La Capilla Project; Mimbres Paquime Connection; Mining District Historical and Tourism Committee; Copper Country Cruisers’ Club; and Southwest Activities Network Society.
The board also recommended two organizations receive no funding, but suggested the organizations coordinate their efforts with the chamber. For example, the Southwest Regional Tourism Initiative requested funding to increase tourism regionally. The board said that, “While the LT Committee feels this is beyond the scope of LT, we ask that the chamber is coordinated within this kind of broad effort.”
Maybe I’m unclear on the purpose of lodger’s tax funds or in how recommendations are made. And I do understand the value of the chamber, and realize that it’s the first stop for most potential visitors to the area. But basing these recommendations on an organization’s affiliation with the chamber seems to be ignoring the applicant’s individual merits.