Last week the Le Mars City Council approved the recommendations of the Le Mars Hotel/Motel Advisory board and reallocated over $18,000 in funding for projects that were approved but funds not used.
The advisory board recommended that $18,815.78 in surrendered funds from the first three allocation cycles of funding for projects that are either defunct of completed be put back to be given to other projects.
The board also recommended retaining some funds for specific uses in the current fiscal year, including $2,000 for the Le Mars Art Center summer children's theater, $1,873.82 for the chamber of commerce concert series, $3,590 for chamber billboards and $523.88 for convention center table and chair.
This move makes a great deal of sense and sends several messages to those that seek to use Hotel/Motel funds, or any sales tax funds. First and foremost, if at all possible, follow through with your plans. If something happens, communicate with the folks that are funding your projects. More often than not, something can be worked out. Second, if your project isn't approved or fully funded, don't be afraid to retool and reapply. Finally, this shows the importance of advisory boards as watchdogs and sounding boards, two tools that any elected official should welcome with open arms.
The other sales tax that groups have the opportunity to apply for a portion of the proceeds is the local option sales tax, more commonly referred to as its acronym, LOST. The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors has established a LOST advisory board after doing the work themselves for a round of funding. The Le Mars City Council has disbanded their LOST advisory board, choosing to use their funds to buy down the cost of projects the city has already committed to instead of opening it up for other groups.
We hope these elected officials make full use of their advisory boards and follow the example of the Hotel/Motel advisory board and make both sides accountable, ensuring that funds are fully utilized, even if they have to be reallocated.