H/M tax board makes decisions on grants

The Hotel Motel Tax Board finalized their recommendations on projects and funding levels at a meeting on Wednesday.

Four applicants will be recommended for funding at the next meeting of the City Council of Webster City on July 7. However, a couple of those applicants will receive less funding than they asked for.

The first grant application discussed came from the Doodlebug Club of America in the amount of $1,100 to help fund the 28th Annual Doodlebug Reunion. The board voted to recommend the application. But, Board Member Brian Stroner said he doesn’t want to see the club apply for reunion funding every year.

“Basically, they’re treating us like a line item in their budget,” Stroner said.

He said the group could consider other projects, such as hiring a videographer to create a documentary about the reunion.

Board Member Jack Foster said other organizations have also applied for annual funding for repeating projects.

“I think, not only is it wrong, but I think it tends to discourage some people out there, small groups, individuals, that might have what they think are off-the-wall ideas, but might be damn good ideas,” Foster said. “I’d like to encourage those folks to come to us. We might not buy it, but I’d like to see some fresh ideas coming in and not just the same old people every time.”

However, Stroner said some groups require their regular funding and also bring in many tourists, such as the Wilson Brewer Park Museums and Visitor Center.

A request from the Help Entertain and Restore Organization for $25,000 for their Save the Webster Theater project was approved for recommendation. Stroner made the motion for recommendation with the stipulation that it would be the last time they recommended a grant for their general budget.

“If there’s some type of event they’re going to have, then yeah, maybe they can come back and ask for more money,” Stroner said.

He said the money will be used for projects including steam cleaning theater seats and work on the building’s marquee.

A request from the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce for funding for a tourism marketing plan was approved for recommendation, but was reduced from $24,010 to $20,400. Foster, who made the motion for the reduced recommendation, said the Chamber wants to reduce their share of marketing costs from 41 percent to 30 percent.

“I don’t see us picking up 70 percent of their marketing,” Foster said.

He said the board’s reduced recommended amount maintains the 60 percent funding level that they previously recommended.

Funding for Legacy Learning Boone River Valley marketing was approved for recommendation, but was cut from the original request of $19,198 to $2,500. Stroner said the group’s advertisements encourage visitors to stay at cabins in Briggs Woods Park and not hotels and motels where the tax is generated from. Board member Pat Westcott said LLBRV also encourages visitors to eat at Briggs Woods Golf Course and not at downtown restaurants.

Additionally, Stroner said a previous grant to the organization for marketing was instead used to attain nonprofit status.

“They did use our money for the 501c3. However, we specifically told them that all of the money we gave them last year was to be used for marketing purposes only,” Stroner said.

Stroner moved to recommend funding them $2,500 to directly use for marketing. The board voted in agreement.