Voices

Valleyfest eyes lodging tax money

Panel not looking favorably at event, which has secured nearly $20,000 from city

Once again, Valleyfest director Peggy Doering is waiting to hear whether her organization will receive any of Spokane Valley’s lodging tax funding.

Valleyfest asked for $40,000 from lodging taxes for festival marketing. As happened last year, the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee did not recommend Valleyfest for funding.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the lodging tax allocation during its Dec. 13 meeting, leaving Doering hoping for another last-minute reprieve.

“We’re looking at what will happen if we don’t get funded,” Doering said. “I do know that we can’t advertise or market unless we find more sponsors. You need to market it to get people to come. We’re reviewing our budget very carefully right now.”

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommends to the City Council how to spend the tax money collected from hotel room stays; the money must be used to promote tourism.

Last year, following the committee’s recommendation, the council defunded Valleyfest. It reconsidered a few months later during a second round of applications, awarding the festival $30,000.

Valleyfest also received $19,500 “outside agency” funding from the city for 2012, and has secured $19,368 from the city for 2013. Councilwoman Brenda Grassel, who heads the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, said her impression was that money would also be used for marketing.

“We thought we were giving them the money they needed out of outside agency funding,” she said. “That’s where the discrepancy is. Economic development is not the role of Valleyfest. They’re a festival that is supposed to advertise the city.”

The argument against funding Valleyfest has been that the three-day community festival doesn’t generate hotel room nights, though state law does not make hotel bookings a requirement for funding.

Last year, Doering presented a survey of 218 Valleyfest attendees in 2011 that said about one-quarter of them said they stayed at a local hotel/motel or campground.

That information hasn’t been enough to sway the committee, Doering said. “They don’t believe me,” she said. “We try to work really hard with all the businesses, because there is an economic impact to businesses more than hotels in Spokane Valley.”

The room night revenue generated by Valleyfest pales in comparison to the money generated by conventions and sports events organized by Visit Spokane and the Spokane Regional Sports Commission, Grassel said. Those organizations are recommended to get $335,000 of the $380,500 in funding.

“It’s not a matter of did they generate room nights,” Grassel said of Valleyfest. “We’ve always known they generated several room nights. The discussion that’s been and always has been is the amount of room nights.”

Other organizations recommended for funding are the HUB Sports Center, the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center and the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum.

Grassel noted that she recommended giving Valleyfest $6,000, a smaller amount than she recommended last year. “It’s been a funding source that was supposed to be seed money until they grew and got off the ground,” she said. “Instead they keep coming back for more.”

Doering calls the situation “disheartening.”

“I look at the budget and it makes my stomach sink,” she said. “It’s a lot of money. I am concerned. I’m actually very concerned.”



Click here to comment on this story »



Blogs


Complete interview with Gabe Marks

Our most recent story about prolific Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks tells the story of a particularly insightful interview we had last spring. That story, "Gabe Marks is a ...


Weekend Wild Card — 7.23-24. 16

I'm facing another weekend of fence-building with my neighbor. Once we get the back fence built, I have one last honey-do item on the agenda and then it's kick back ...


You have 50 choices

S-R intern Tyson Bird brought cookies to work on his last day with us. It has been a pleasure to have him here. I first printed a column submission from ...



Saving for the future

sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.



Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile