Chamber, Tourism request city Hotel/Motel Tax funding

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Both the Jones County Tourism Association and the Monticello Area Chamber of Commerce approached the Monticello City for a portion of the city’s increased Hotel/Motel Tax.

     During the Dec. 17 council meeting, Chris Brokaw, a chamber board member, addressed the council during the Open Forum, asking for a 25 percent Hotel/Motel Tax funding request for the chamber’s 2019 fiscal year.

     “The chamber is often approached by various organizations for funding requests,” said Brokaw. He said asking for 25 percent (or $5,000) of the new Hotel/Motel Tax revenue will help the chamber to purchase new banners for the downtown light poles and update the Christmas decorations as well. In addition, the chamber would like to attend and participate in trade shows throughout the state, and attend events that would allow the chamber to promote tourism and businesses in Monticello.

     “We can have events to help stimulate the local economy,” he said.

     City Administrator Doug Herman informed the council that no decisions have been made concerning the Hotel/Motel Tax, and would be discussed during the council’s goal-setting session in the coming new year.

     “This is a new revenue stream for us,” Herman noted.

     Per state code, a city/county must use 50 percent of their Hotel/Motel Tax for such things as “improving, enlarging, equipping, repairing, operating, or maintaining of recreation, convention, cultural, or entertainment facilities including but not limited to memorial buildings, halls and monuments, civic centers, auditoriums, and parking areas.” In addition, those funds shall be used for “the promotion and encouragement of tourist and convention business in the city or county and surrounding areas.”

     Bobby Krum, a member of the Jones County Tourism Board, also addressed the council. Tourism asked the city for its annual $1,139 (30 cents per capita) funding request, as well as an additional 4 percent of the city’s new Hotel/Motel Tax revenue.

     In 2018, Tourism received $12,046 from the City of Anamosa (or 16 percent) in Hotel/Motel Tax, and $329 (100 percent) from the county.

     “Tourism has not asked for a lot in the past,” said Krum.

     He said the additional funding would be used for increased advertising on Tourism’s behalf to promote countywide activities and events. “We want people to come here and continue to grow tourism,” added Krum.

     Herman clarified that the city does not have a policy in place for how it disperses or spends its Hotel/Motel Tax. He said there are a lot of things that could benefit from this increased revenue, due primarily to the new Boulders Inn & Suites.

     The council approved the $1,139 request for Tourism, at this time. No action was taken on the chamber’s request. Council member Brenda Hanken was opposed to just the per capita approval.

     “How many other requests will we get?” asked Council member Tom Yeoman of the funding. “We need to wait until we get through the budget process and goal setting before we make any (funding) changes.”

     Monticello resident Steve Hanken urged the council to use the tax towards tourism. Hanken said another German group of tourists are planning to return in October 2019. “We need to do something about tourism,” he said.

     In the past, Hotel/Motel Tax was spent on the digital sign outside of Monticello on Highway 151. Hanken said half of the people driving by Monticello don’t even pay attention or see that sign, pointing to a waste in tax spending.

In other city business:

     The council approved a $500 funding request from Jones County Extension & Outreach for Summer Discovery Camps throughout the county.

     • The council waived fees related to Starlighters II Theatre’s usage of the Community Building for directing classes. Starlighters will be using the facility for six consecutive Thursdays in March and April.

     • The council approved the submission of the Monticello airport’s five-year capital improvement plan to the DOT. Herman said the airport’s biggest long-range project is to build an extension to the runway.

     • The council approved the Monticello Police Department’s Policy G-13 related to the enforcement of immigration laws consistent with state code Chapter 825. The policy requires city officers to work with all ICE personnel and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Chief Britt Smith clarified that the MPD is not taking the role of immigration enforcement officials.

     By approving the policy, it allows the city to align with the state code on this matter, preventing Monticello from becoming a “sanctuary city.”

     • The council approved the semi-final pay request from Taylor Construction, Inc. in the amount of $3,213.76 for work related to the E. First Street Bridge Replacement Project.

     The city still maintains $16,437.47 in retainage.

     City Engineer Patrick Schwickerath said he is working on the final project audit to close out the project.

     • Chief Smith is working with Bobby Krum of Amber on merging the city’s UTV ordinance with the county’s new ATV/UTV ordinance. Krum was instrumental in the passing of the county ordinance.

     Smith said he would bring any city ordinance recommendations to the council for approval in the not-too-distant future.


Subscriber Login