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Critics assail allocation of city’s lodging tax

Several business leaders, representing nonprofit community events, are upset about proposed allocations of the city’s lodging tax that would slash funding for local events, while increasing funding for the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau.

“I just don’t know that a county visitor and convention bureau can do as good a job as the local nonprofits at promoting the town,” said Malory Jackson, who owns Custom Picture Framing on Bay Street and has volunteered with several local nonprofits. “I think our nonprofits have done an excellent job utilizing the lodging tax dollars. We bring people into town.”

The advisory committee recommended that the City Council increase funding for the visitors and convention bureau by 59 percent compared with last year.

It recommended cutting funding for the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce by 61 percent, Kitsap Harbor Festival by 37 percent, Concerts by the Bay by 25 percent, the Fathoms of Fun Festival by 23 percent, the Sidney Museum by 40 percent and the city’s events budget by 40 percent.

“I believe that this is an extreme switch, and it should be looked at more carefully,” John Ready of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association said at the council’s work study session held Oct. 18.

Gil Michael, who owns the Cedar Cove Inn, agreed.

“The switch in allocations seems to be excessive,” he said. “It seems that something is out of proportion.”

One aspect of the allocation that seems disproportional, Michael said, is the city’s allocation to the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau, compared with other groups benefitting from the bureau’s services.

“Off the top of my head, I did some figures,” he said.

Port Orchard’s proportional contribution to the VCB’s overall budget — based on the city’s population relative to the county — is closer to $12,000 than the $17,400 that was allocated, Michael said.

Several committee members defended their decisions.

“It’s about putting Port Orchard on the map — not just on festival weekends,” Amy Igloi-Matsuno of Amy’s on the Bay restaurant said, “so there’s a constant message to — come to the peninsula.”

The VCB’s report to the committee presented a compelling case that they would bring tourists to the city, Igloi-Matsuno said.

“The VCB had the most well put-together report on what we would get for $1,500 per month — the effort that they put to put Port Orchard on the map,” she said. “They were able to document how many visitors they have to their website and how many calls they get specifically to Port Orchard.”

Chan Park, the manager at the Comfort Inn on Bay Street, also said that he thought the advisory committee’s suggestions were sound.

It gave nonprofits less money this year than previous years mainly because they there was less money to go around.

“The hospitality industry has been hammered in the past few years,” he said, and since the lodging tax funds are tied directly to the hospitality industry — a 2 percent addition to the sales tax at local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts — the “pie” was smaller than usual.

“There was only so much of the pie left, and so many plates to be served.”

Top priority was given, he said, to organizations that seemed most likely to put “heads in beds,” he said.

“The more heads in beds, the more we can give back to the city,” he said. “The more we can put heads in beds, the more we can help the nonprofit organizations, as well.”

City Council members expressed a variety of feelings about the proposed allocations.

“I wish we had never developed this tax,” Councilman John Clauson said. “It generates, relatively speaking, so little money and raises so much hate and discontent every year.”

 

Lodging Tax Advisory Committee

Chairman: Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang

Representing Nonprofits:

Diane Robinson, president of Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau

Amy Igloi-Matsuno, Port Orchard Bay Street Association

Kathleen Wilson, Port Orchard Bay Street Association

Representing Hotels/Motels/Bed and Breakfasts:

Heather Cole, Hidden Treasures Bed and Breakfast

Dick Berg, Vista Motel

Chan Park, The Comfort Inn

 

2012 Lodging Tax

Group: Cedar Cove Days

Request: $17,500

Recommendation: $8,400

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 13

Group: City Economic Development/Tourism Committee

Request: $25,500

Recommendation: $13,400

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 20

Group: Fathoms O’Fun Festivals

Request: $10,500

Recommendation: $6,600

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 10

Group: Fathoms O’Fun Concerts by the Bay

Request: $7,500

Recommendation: $3,750

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 6

Group: Kitsap Visitor Convention Bureau

Request: $18,000

Recommendation: $17,500

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 26

Group: Port of Bremerton – Boater Bags

Request: $1,500

Recommendation: $600

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 1

Group: Port of Bremerton – Kitsap Harbor Festival

Request: $3,600

Recommendation: $1,800

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 3

Group: Port Orchard Bay Street Association

Request: $14,100

Recommendation: $6,333

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 10

Group: Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce

Request: $18,956

Recommendation: $6,125

Percent of the Total Lodging Tax Budget: 9

Group: Sidney Museum and Arts Association

Request: $10,275

Recommendation: $2,012

Percent of total lodging tax budget: 3

Group: Audubon’s Great Washington Birding Trail

Request: $5,000

Recommendation: 0

Total Requests: $132,431

Total lodging tax budget: $66,600

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