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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valleyfest may lose Spokane Valley funding as city shifts focus

Valleyfest could be in danger of losing its subsidy from the city of Spokane Valley.

The Spokane Valley City Council spent part of Tuesday’s meeting discussing its goals for spending lodging tax revenue.

The allocation of the funds is hotly contested. Applications for the tax supersede funding available each year, but Valleyfest has been a frequent recipient.

Councilman Ed Pace suggested the council switch its focus from funding events to funding structures. He said it may be time to stop funding part of Valleyfest, though he said it is a great event. The nonprofit community celebration could be supported fully by local businesses, he said.

Pace said hoteliers tell him that Valleyfest doesn’t produce a measurable number of “heads in beds” – overnight stays at local hotels.

“We ought to refocus back on heads in beds,” Pace said. “Peaks in retail business we can’t really measure. Heads in beds are simple and easy to measure.”

Valleyfest has received about $332,000 in lodging tax funds since Spokane Valley incorporated in 2003. Like many other organizations, Valleyfest has applied for nearly twice as much as it has received over the years.

Pace suggested giving 20 percent of the entire budget to an “event that can complement Valleyfest.”

A newly implemented additional 1.3 percent lodging tax is expected to generate another $377,000, which Finance Director Chelsie Taylor reminded the council may only be used to fund sports facilities or other tourist facilities that will draw people to Spokane Valley.

Taylor said the new lodging tax generates enough revenue to secure a $6 million 30-year bond. She said it would be possible to use all the revenue and secure a $12 million bond. But that would require a recommendation from the lodging tax committee to do just that.

Woodard added that he would like to bring a symphony concert to a Spokane Valley park.

“That is one thing we ought to do for our citizens,” Woodard said. “We should listen to where people say they go, and make Spokane Valley a place people go to.” Applications are due to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee on Oct. 7.

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