An in-depth training was held last Wednesday, April 10, for the use of Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax (HOT) for organizations that are interested in applying for funding for the fiscal year 2014. Justin Bragiel, General Counsel for Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, explained the criteria and categories that are acceptable for the HOT usage during the two-hour presentation. The Texas Hotel Association is a nonprofit trade association representing the lodging and tourism industry based out of Austin.
The first criteria is every expenditure must directly enhance and promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry. In other words, the popular phrase – will it put heads in beds? – must be asked. The event or usage will attract tourists who will stay in a hotel/motel.
Second, there are nine categories that are acceptable.
They are: 1. A convention center/visitor information center managed by city or county government and primarily used by tourists. Bragiel explained that a tourist is any visitor from another city or county; 2. Convention Delegates (salaries, serving a large convention etc.); 3. Advertising and promotion; 4. Funding for the arts; 5. Historical/ Restoration preservation; 6. Sporting events where tourists will be in attendance; 7. Improvements to municipally owned sports facility where at least 10 games will be used for local, state or national play, 8. Transportation systems for tourists and 9. Signage (directing tourists to an event or place.)
Eight groups were represented with three members attending. The training is mandatory for the organizations to be eligible to apply for funding. Those in atten- dance were the Pleasanton Young Farmers, Art on Main, Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ACT Theatre, Downtown Pleasanton Merchants Association, Miss Tera’s Taps N Toes and Our Lady of Grace Academy.
Once the organizations have completed the training, have satisfied the criteria to apply and have submitted their form, a committee, selected by the City Council, will review and make recommendations to the Council for funding.
The HOT Committee consists of people who have the knowledge of money/accounting and those involved in tourism. They are also not involved in groups who are potential applicants to avoid a conflict of interest.
The committee chairman is Rusty Garvin, Vice President of Texas Champion Bank. Members include Valerie Purgason, Longhorn Museum Director, Helen Martinez, City of Pleasanton Finance Director; Tiffany Bedwell, one of the principal owners of Kadobe’s restaurant and Diana Guthrie, Pleasanton Public Library Director.