For the first time since the Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax grant process started, no funds will be distributed to the three applicants for the fiscal year 2016 which begins October 1, 2015.
Earl Peterson, Activities/ Facilities Director, presented the recommendation from the HOT Grant Committee at the August 20 Pleasanton City Council meeting. In attendance were Mayor Clint Powell and Council members Doug Best, District 1, Abraham Saenz, District 2; Diana Prasifka, District 3; Eliseo Flores, District 4, Robert Earl Wood, District 5 and Travis Hall Jr., District 6.
The committee met on July 22 and consisted of Longhorn Museum Director Valerie Purgason, Activities/Facilities Director Earl Peterson, Tiffany Bedwell and Chairman Rusty Garvin – both members of the community. Both Bedwell and Garvin resigned their positions shortly after the meeting. The committee was formed in 2014 and had two more members Helen Martinez (former City of Pleasanton Finance Director) and Diana Guthrie (former City of Pleasanton Public Library Director).
Peterson reported that the grant application’s packet post event forms were incomplete from the Pleasanton Young Farmers Cowboy of the Year Open Rodeo, Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Cowboy Homecoming Festival and the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Turn-n-Burn Barbeque Cook-off – specifically the portion in the packet which states there “shall be at least one person at the event dedicated to a signup sheet among visitors (especially out of town) to determine if the event meets the basic qualifications for the grant award. The signup sheet with individuals’ names, addresses and contact information shall be a part of the post event form.” Peterson did reiterate that “It was only one item missing in the post event report.”
But the information should have been included in the Post Event Report that is required to be turned in 60 days after the event. Peterson did mention that a couple were late and those reports were not in the material he received from the former Finance Director Helen Martinez.
Doug Best (District 1) made the motion to accept the recommendation with Diana Prasifka (District 3) seconding. Councilman Robert Earl Wood (District 5) was the only one who voted against.
After the meeting, representatives from both the Young Farmers and Chamber were stating that the reports requested were turned in, but the City had no time/date stamp to mark the applications when they are submitted.
The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce 50th Cowboy Homecoming celebration, planned for October 22-24, has booked their entertainment and special events such as the bull ride and tractor pull. The absence of the grant funds plus the City of Pleasanton’s usage fee of the park that was recently negotiated will put a strain on their budget.
Receipts from Pleasanton hotels/motels totaled $10,157,135. This amount is over a 12-month period June 2014 through May 2015 according to the website (aixtcp.cpa. state.tx.us/hotel/hotelmon. php). The rate of tax collected for Pleasanton is seven percent or $710,999.45. The last 12 months adjusted taxable amounts follow:
June, 2014 – $893,976.87
July, 2014 – $936,275.89
August, 2014 – $984,864.10
September, 2014– $1,097,231.25
October, 2014- $1,113,208.72
November, 2014 – $992,487.82
December, 2014 – $ 970,344.70
January, 2015 – $833,698.69
February, 2015 – $542,157.31
March, 2015 – $720,614.59
April, 2015 – $612,740.03
May, 2015 – $495,927.05 According to Pleasanton City Manager Bruce Pearson, the balance in the account is about $923,000. Over the past three years, $182,000 – $190,000 has been distributed to various groups.
Before the Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax grant process was implemented, a percentage of the funds was divided among several non-profit groups including the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Pleasanton Young Farmers, Atascosa County Troupe and the Pleasanton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to name a few.
Once the influx of hotels/ motels began due to the Eagle Ford Oil play, the funds received by the city and then distributed to the area non-profits have helped to put more “heads in beds” by booking better bands and spectator sports/events.
Discussions for implementing a HOT grant application process first began in November 2011. The first training session was held on April 10, 2013 with Justin Bragiel, General Counsel for Texas Hotel and Lodging Association. The guidelines suggested were used in the grant process.
An appeal will be heard from the two entities at the Special City Council Meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m.