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Fairgrounds walkway, disc golf course may receive grants

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A total of about $33,700 in grants has been proposed by Le Mars' Convention and Visitor Bureau Advisory Board to go toward projects ranging from a handicapped walkway at the fairgrounds to Ice Cream Days events and promotions.

The advisory board handed over its 2011-12 recommendations for using local hotel/motel sales tax revenue to the Le Mars City Council Tuesday.

The council decided to wait two weeks for public comment before approving the list of recommendations at the next regular council meeting, at noon Tuesday, March 1.

The advisory board received 18 applications for grants from the hotel/motel sales taxes revenue totalling nearly $75,000.

They awarded the $33,700 for 15 of the requests.

Among those awarded are $5,000 to help pay for a handicapped accessible walkway at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds, $8,000 for Ice Cream Days, $5,000 to help pay for new LED lighted holiday decorations to hang on light poles for the City of Le Mars and $2,000 for a planned new 18-hole disc golf course.

The 15 award amounts range from $700 to $8,000.

These projects are all for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2011.

The total 2011 hotel/motel sales tax revenue is expected to be more than $100,000, according to Assistant City Administrator Bill Cole.

Of that, $60,000 is channeled into the Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB).

Approximately $20,000 of that goes toward the salary of Jessica Lingren, CVB manager.

Lingren was hired for the job in August 2009. Her total pay package, including benefits, which also pays for the work she does booking reservations for city facilities like the convention center, is about $50,000.

Of the hotel/motel sales tax revenue $36,000 goes toward marketing the Le Mars community and $4,000 pays for website expenses.

That leaves about $40,000.

The advisory board suggested reserving about $6,000 for marketing for any community events or projects that come up unexpectedly, leaving about $33,700 of hotel/motel sales tax revenue for grants.

The CVB was created in 2009 to coordinate efforts to promote Le Mars events and tourism. The CVB works to market the community in the region and state.

"Since we've brought the advertising somewhat in house, we've tried to make it so that multiple groups can benefit from the same advertising," said Councilman Rex Knapp, who sits on the CVB advisory board. "We've been able to get better rates and more advertising."

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I thought our hotel tax was just 5%, and it seems like I pay much more anywhere else I travel, so I decided to check it out a bit. I'm sure there is other data available that is more current, but it looks like Le Mars is staying on the low side. The second item below is just a reminder that while this tax may be administered by the city, it was approved by the people of Le Mars.

From American Hotel & Lodging Association report (on-line) 6/19/08: Room taxes average 12.62 percent, about $12.39 per night nationwide, in addition to the average room rate of about $94.69 for 2008. The national average of these combined bed taxes is up from an average of 12.4 percent in 2003;

From Sentinel 11/12/10: "The hotel/motel sales tax was approved by Le Mars voters in 2001 and is scheduled to end in 2016. A second vote, which would be held in 2013, is needed in order to continue the tax beyond the 2016 sunset."

Basically, you'll pay hotel tax anywhere you go, and Le Mars is cheaper than most.

-- Posted by FoodForThought on Thu, Feb 17, 2011, at 9:59 PM

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