Le Mars City Council members Tuesday gave approval to the recommended Hotel/Motel Tax askings as submitted earlier for consideration by the Le Mars Hotel/Motel Tax Advisory Board.
The board had recommended the awarding of some $119,000 in funding, payable starting in July 2007, with an additional $2,000 to the city for 2007-2008 administrative costs.
Discussion prior to the council action did, however, set the stage for possible funding assistance from the city itself for at least two of the organizations asking for the Hotel/Motel Tax monies.
Jayne McGuire, appearing before the council on behalf of Main Street, told council members that the group's 25 hanging flowerpots along Plymouth Street to Highway 75 would be disappearing due to a reduction in Mainstreet's request for $1,854, cut to $1,000. Her report, citing lack of funds for watering the hanging pots, prompted City Administrator Scott Langel to question council members as to the wisdom of starting a project and then abandoning it.
"Three to four million dollars has already been invested in Streetscape," Langel said. "Why start a project and not continue it? There's no reason not to fund it." He added that he felt public facilities staff could handle the watering.
Councilman Ken Nelson then proceeded to question fellow council members about funding for another of those projects failing to receive the full amount of their request: Dick Masuen and Stan Culley, responsible for the lighted Christmas parade. Their original asking of $3,000 was cut by the Hotel/Motel Tax Advisory Board to $1,200.
Nelson cautioned the council that lack of support for the parade could, he was afraid, result in its disappearance in the future to another community. Mayor Virgil Van Beek, at the same time, noted the large crowds seen at local restaurants during the parade and the event's drawing power to downtown.
Next came discussion, initiated by Councilman John Rexwinkle, joined by Councilman Rex Knapp, on the possible appearance of the council mico-managing an advisory committee. City Administrator Langel, meanwhile, suggested the possible need for the city to find a budgetary method of funding such on-going events, as is already done for city fireworks displays, to perpetuate their being for the city's benefit. The suggestion is slated for additional future council discussion.
Organizations requesting and recommended to receive a total of $119,300 in monies from the board and the project to be supported are as follows. Recommended funding is listed first with the request in parentheses.
Pioneer Christmas Village - $2,000 ($2,500); Gehlen Youth Rally - $2,000 ($3,200); Bluegrass Festival - $3,700 ($6,000); Chamber Ag & Farmers' Market - $3,500 ($5,000); Chamber Summer Movies - $1,000 ($1,500); Lighted Christmas Parade - $1,200 (3,000); Le Mars Community School Basketball Program - $2,000 ($3,000).
Le Mars Sportsmen Club - $10,000 ($12,000); Wasmer Post Memorial - $900 ($6,200); Area Arts Council Barn Quilts - $500 ($3,000); Chamber Targeted Marketing - $28,000 ($30,000); Chamber Ice Cream Days - $17,000 ($20,000); Le Mars Alumni Program Postage - $1,000 ($6,500); Le Mars Municipal Band - $3,500 ($5,000).
Town and Country Toy Club - $500 ($1,500); Plymouth County Historical Museum Autograph Display - $2,500 ($15,000); Le Mars Community Theater Building Enhancement/Handicap Accessibility - $5,000 ($5,000); Plymouth County Fair Restrooms - $19,000 ($50,000); Mainstreet Flower Pots - $1,000 ($1,854); Mainstreet Presents Programs - $5,000 ($7,500); City of Le Mars Rec Trail Enhancement - $10,000 ($35,000).
An accounting of Hotel/Motel receipts as of Dec. 15, 2006, presented to the council Tuesday by Finance Director Bill Cole shows a total of $455,80.03 received by the city since the tax was implemented in 2002. Receipts for the calendar year 2006 are $76,065 with an additional quarter's amount remaining to come in. Receipts for 2005 totaled $100,743.55, and Cole said he expected the 2006 total to "come close" to this amount.