HOT fund grant decisions reconsidered

Chamber and Young Farmers receive requested amounts

The Pleasanton City Council heard appeals from the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the Pleasanton Young Farmers at a Special Meeting on August 27 concerning their decision at the August 20 meeting to not fund the groups’ Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax grant requests.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pro Tempore Travis Hall Jr. Mayor Clint Powell was absent.

James Strange, representing the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, thanked the council for their previous support of events. He reported that all 12 hotels/motels in the area fully supported their events – Pleasanton Cowboy Homecoming and Turn-n-Burn Barbeque Cook-off. He also reminded the council that the chamber entered into an agreement for the use of the Atascosa Riverpark for the next 20 years because of the city’s support. He said that the bands and events have already been booked for this year’s events and were done so due to the past support from the grant funds. He further explained that the group turned in the grant application and post report before the deadline and asked if there was anything else needed to complete the process.

Strange also shared that the chamber not only hosts these events, they also award scholarships to area graduates, maintain an office to promote our city. Last year’s event cost $213,009.00. For this year, they will need $80,000 before the event to pay for what has been booked. This doesn’t include the amounts that are due after each dance on Friday and Saturday. “Without the City’s help, we might not be able to continue this tradition so we thank you for your reconsideration,” said Strange.

Darryl Ashley spoke on behalf of the Pleasanton Young Farmers. He cited their efforts to bring more people to the event by using the grant funds to help promote it. The years where they were able to advertise the rodeo festival, their attendance grew. He explained that they have people from not only out of town, but out of state who participate in their event. He also told the council that they also provide scholarships to area youth. Michael Korus presented a bag of forms of those who registered at the event that would have names and address of attendees.

Doug Best (District 1), in two separate motions, moved to reconsider a Hotel Motel Tax Grant for the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the Pleasanton Young Farmers and to fund them 100 percent of the request. Diana Prasifka seconded both. Voting against both motions were Council members Abraham Saenz (District 2) and Eliseo Flores (District 4).

“This has been a really awkward situation. As city council members, when we have a committee of citizens – it is really important for us to listen to the recommendations, “ said Best. But he added that hopefully the grant funding process can be streamlined and improved.

“Sometimes you have to follow your heart. It’s been quite a battle for me, but I must go back and think of what my father would want to do, after being a part of the first Cowboy Homecoming. As hard as they worked, going to the First National Bank, which was then on Main Street, to borrow money for all of those years. So I congratulate you and your hard work,” said Hall.

Also at the special session meeting on August 27, the first of two hearings for the Proposed Budget and for the Proposed Ad Valorem Tax Rate for fiscal year 2015- 2016 was held. No one approached the council for comments or questions. The next public hearing will be held on September 3 at 6 p.m. during the regular meeting.

Another Special Session

A second Special Session was called for Monday, August 31 at noon to address the agenda items from the August 27 meeting. On the agenda were more specific items – Discussion and Action to award a Hotel Motel Tax Grant to the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce for the amount of $158,481.93 and

Discussion and Action to award a Hotel Motel Tax Grant to the Pleasanton Young Farmers in the amount of $70,000.00.

In attendance were Mayor Pro Tempore Travis Hall Jr. (District 6), Doug Best, District 1, Abraham Saenz, District 2; Diana Prasifka, District 3; Eliseo Flores, District 4 and Robert Earl Wood, District 5. Mayor Clint Powell was absent.

Before the Mayor Pro Tempore could address the agenda items, Councilman Flores moved that the council go into Executive Session. He cited purpose 3. Deliberation regarding prospective gift (§551.073) and 8. Deliberation regarding economic development negotiation (§551.087).

City Manager Bruce Pearson strongly suggested calling the City Attorney Bobby Maldonado to be sure the council could convene in Executive Session. A recess to contact the attorney was called. The council recessed into Executive Session at 12:13 p.m. and reconvened at 12:49 p.m.

Best, in separate motions, moved to award the amounts on the agenda to both the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the Pleasanton Young Farmers. Both motions passed with the dissenting votes from Flores and Saenz.

The meeting adjourned at 12:51 p.m.

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