The Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funding – or at least this fiscal year non-funding – mechanism just might need some tweaking.
I get it. When our city didn’t have that much to “lose”, it wasn’t a big deal. But now that our coffers are filling up exponentially, there is more to distribute and the need for accountability has increased.
But the term cutting off our nose to spite our face sounds all too familiar to me .
The HOT funds are there for entities to use to promote their city – the proverbial putting “heads in beds” is the mantra for the proper usage of these dollars that are collected from area hotels and motels.
Events that anticipate folks using these hotels/ motels are shoe-ins for being able to have access to the funds. But wait … there’s more. The grant application process includes a post event form. This form must include a list of every person that is in attendance – preferably those that are from out-of-town and are staying in a hotel/motel – complete with an address and contact information. Plus, there should be at least one person designated to collect this information.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to a lot of events out of town and I have stayed in a number of hotels/motels along the way. I have never, ever been asked to register/ sign a form with my name and contact information. In fact, if I was ever asked to do this I most likely would refuse. My mindset would be like the giveaways you see in malls and theme parks … a way for someone to solicit their wares while you are trying to enjoy a nice quiet dinner at home.
So, we have some events in our town that promote people staying in hotels/motels. Not only do these events satisfy the HOT guidelines they also reflect and address our local heritage – The Birthplace of the Cowboy.
The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual event – this year is the 50th one and it should be special, right? They sponsor an award-winning float that travels to several parades each year promoting our event. They hold a bull ride where they honor the Cowboys of the Year. Not only does the chamber rely on the fundraising of their event to pay the expenses that are associated with it, they also must make enough to cover the cost of keeping their doors open to the community by paying their office manager, electricity, internet etc. The chamber sponsors the Turn-n-Burn BBQ Cookoff – one of the highest pay-outs in the state of Texas. They also sponsor the Taste of Atascosa as well as business mixers throughout the year.
The Pleasanton Young Farmers also honor the Cowboy of the Year at their annual rodeo plus they acknowledge the men and women who have been inducted into the South Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. They bring in rodeo contestants and entertainment afterwards that has become quite popular. They, too, have a barbeque cook-off.
Both groups award thousands of dollars in scholarships to area graduates, too. In other words, they give back to their community.
Representatives from the groups will be able to appeal/discuss the decision at the Special City Council meeting that will be held this Thursday, August 27 at 6 p.m. The way I see it, these two groups do a great job promoting our heritage, and as I look a the official stationery of the City of Pleasanton with the cowboy statue and the slogan “Birthplace of the Cowboy.”
I can only wonder and hope if some of these funds could be diverted to these non-profit groups – if only a percentage – with the hopes that all “i’s will be dotted and all t’s will be crossed” for the next grant reporting phase … or the criteria changes to be a bit more community friendly.
SUE BROWN is the editor of the Pleasanton Express. Contact her at email@example.com or write at P.O. Drawer 880, Pleasanton, TX 78064.