|These Minutes are preliminary pending approval by Council.|
Transient Occupancy Tax
February 3, 2004 12:00pm
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 12:12 pm.
Council Present: Cate Hartzell and Kate Jackson
Council Absent: Chris Hearn
Staff Present: Mike Franell, Gino Grimaldi, Bryn Morrison, and Lee Tuneberg
Approval of Minutes
Jackson and Hartzell agreed to wait to review and approve the minutes of January 20, 2004 until Hearn was present.
Approval of Grant Process Calendar
Tuneberg spoke to the grant process calendar. He is proposing to make the applications available March 1, the applications returned from the applicants by March 19, and the Budget Committee meeting to allocate the funds on March 30 and 31. Hartzell asked what was needed to be able to send out the applications. Tuneberg responded that they were waiting for any direction the councilors may have, and then they would prepare the paperwork and place a public notice in the paper. Jackson added that the councilors should add any guidance to the application before they are sent out. Hartzell suggested sending a cover letter to send with the application notifying the applicants of the changes. Jackson and Hartzell approved the grant process calendar as presented.
Jackson asked when the letter was mailed out to notify the applicants of the Transient Occupancy Tax meetings and that public input would be taken on February 18. Morrison responded that the letter was mailed January 30, 2004.
Ashland Chamber of Commerce Financial Report
Sandra Slattery and Mary Pat Parker presented the financial report for the Chamber. They spoke to how the Chamber adheres to the categories in Resolution 2000-25. (Please see attachment that follows)
Jackson asked about the Visitors Convention Bureau (VCB), if it is a separate entity from the Chamber. Slattery responded that the VCB has its own program, budget and mission and the City grant funds are used for the VCB. Hartzell asked if there is a position on the VCB held by a person from the City. Slattery responded that there always has been and currently the mayor selects a person to appoint to the board. Jackson added that the VCB has a separate board of directors and asked if they have to be a member of the Chamber to participate. Slattery responded that they could be anyone who is involved in attractions or tourism.
Hartzell asked what the $10,000 for the Tourism and Economic Development (research studies) in Appendix I was spent on in 2003-04 budget. Parker responded that one example was Destination Ashland, and that 100% of the people surveyed were tourists. Slattery added that they were trying to continue a program that was cut at SOU called Southern Oregon Regional Services Institute and they are also trying to create a standard visitor survey for scientific data that is seasonal specific and they are trying to develop what they want to use from the information gathered.
Hartzell asked about the links on their web site and if they could be free of charge or a nominal charge. Parker responded that the fee is $10 per month and that is a nominal charge, and that they charge this so they are able to continue to improve the web site. Hartzell asked how some of the money that is granted to the Chamber for their web site could assist other smaller organizations, and if it could go toward the smaller organizations being linked on the Chamber's web site. Slattery added that the Chamber does not charge for the community's events to be listed on the calendar.
Hartzell asked if the Chamber and OSF worked together for marketing. Slattery answered that they respond to the community's needs that are brought to the attention of the committee and market accordingly. Hartzell suggested that the City needs to give more attention to how it works with the Chamber to promote the City. Slattery gave examples of how the Chamber works to promote the City.
Hartzell asked if the people on the event committees were required to be Chamber members. Slattery responded that they didn't have to be Chamber members. Hartzell asked if the one on one business help was free to members. Slattery responded that it is free to anyone, non-members included.
Hartzell asked for a budget specific for the Chamber, and if the grant was only used for the VCB budget. Slattery responded that the grant is only for the VCB budget and the Living and Doing Business is part of the Chamber budget, none of the TOT funds go towards it. Hartzell asked what the difference in cost was between annual and biannual reports. Slattery responded that it was roughly $18,000 for the program, and $25,000 for Living and Doing Business, without staff time and photos included. Hartzell asked about one stop permitting process. Slattery responded that they are looking to be able to give information to the public on one stops.
Jackson asked at what point the Chamber decides the level of tourism is where they want it to be and sustain it and then market that differently than developing it. Slattery responded that 35% of the Chambers budget is tourism, and their direction is to improve the overall economic development of the community and that is the direction they want to encourage. If they had more revenue, they would do more surveying, analyze the data, continue web site development, and listen to what the customers wanted. Jackson voiced that she was uneasy about the overlap of the categories and that some of the tourism dollars are used for economic development also. She asked what the $18,000 for the Festival of Light represented. Slattery responded that it was for media advertisement, event organization, and that those costs relate to tourism. Grimaldi suggested separating the two budgets for Chamber and VCB. Slattery added that the VCB has always had its own budget. Hartzell suggested looking at the 2002-03 financials as a full budget to see a baseline under the new State Statute.
Tuneberg asked Paul Nicholson what the budget for OSF was. He responded $20.9 Million. Nicholson added that OSF's contract with the City specifies that the grant is to be used for tourism.
Tuneberg added that it is difficult to distinguish the Chambers figures as tourism because of the overlapping of resources and staff. He added that if the City identifies the funds as to be used to promote tourism, it would restrict them on who and how it is used. An alternate method to proportion the funds could be if 35% of the Chambers budget is the VCB, then 35% of the funds granted could be considered for tourism with 65% considered toward other economic activities.
Hartzell added that they need to look at the Chamber's contract. Franell will review contracts and Resolution 2000-25. Hartzell would like the wording changed on the meeting schedule for the meeting on 2/18 and that there will be public input.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 PM.
Administrative Secretary Finance Department
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