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City Council funds Valleyfest

Museum, fairgrounds and visitors bureau also get tax dollars

Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved awarding Valleyfest $30,000 in lodging tax funding for 2012, putting to rest months of controversy.

Valleyfest director Peggy Doering said she was grateful for the council’s support. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “This is wonderful news for Spokane Valley and Valleyfest.”

The council also awarded $1,100 to the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, $251,720 to the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, and $25,900 to the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

Valleyfest has received lodging tax funding since the city incorporated, but the council ignited a controversy when it voted against funding the annual event in October. Applications for a second round of funding were taken in January.

Doering said the event’s major sponsors have been waiting to hear if there would be any money to market the event. Now she’s hopeful the sponsors will be willing to continue their support.

Several council members made, and then withdrew, motions allocating varying amounts of funding to organizations that applied.

The council largely followed the average award recommendation made by the lodging tax advisory committee, but wavered over who should get the $5,000 allocated to the Spokane Valley Arts Council after their project was declared ineligible for funding.

Councilman Ben Wick suggested giving the money to the fairgrounds, while Councilman Arne Woodard wanted to give it to the visitors bureau. Wick suggested increasing the overall funding to both organizations, shrinking the fund’s year-end balance.

“Maybe as a compromise, we could draw that fund down more,” Wick said.

Woodard said he was a supporter of Valleyfest, but thought it was “disingenuous” for Valleyfest not to mention that it had already received $19,000 in outside agency funding from the city for 2012.

“This is not the first of the money granted to Valleyfest this year,” he said. “I think everybody up here supports Valleyfest.”

During a break in the meeting, Doering said the $19,000 is intended for economic development rather than marketing.