Jones County tourism increases in ‘16

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Bob Hatcher, director of Jones County Tourism, met with the county supervisors during their Jan. 24 meeting to discuss the happenings in tourism throughout the county, as well as to request $15,500 for the next fiscal year. The request also includes the hotel/motel tax the county receives.

     Hatcher explained to the board that tourists coming to Jones County spent $21.5 million in Jones County in 2016. That’s slightly up from $21.14 a year ago. Hatcher said the gas prices throughout the state were also down at that time.

     The county received $150,000 in local sales tax from tourists. Hatcher said hat figure is up about 11 percent from the previous year.

     The tourism industry in Jones County accounts for 110 jobs here, with an annual payroll of over $2 million.

     In 2016, bus tours organized by Jones County Tourism was up by eight from 2015. This brought over 900 people in the county, spending $27,000 at restaurants and attractions.

     In Fiscal Year 2016, the county received $80,351.94 in hotel/motel tax. Over 13,500 people stayed overnight here, as well as eating and shopping.

     Within just the first nine months of 2016, compared to 2015, hotel/motel tax in Jones County increased 32 percent ($56,374 to $74,328).

     The print advertising Jones County Tourism distributes reached approximately 2.5 million readers in the supper Midwest. Hatcher said he filled over 1,000 requests for information last year via mailings and e-mail.

     He said people come to Jones County for a wide variety of reasons: motorcycles, parks and campgrounds, the Great Jones County Fair, Camp Courageous, Grant Wood, historical museums, Stone City, Scenic Byways, and wineries.

     The Jones County Tourism Office expanded its hours in 2016, having board members and volunteers work a few hours on Saturdays. Hatcher said with the additional hours, the office averaged four travel parties a day.

     He told the board that Tourism is working on creating multiple day travel packages to attract people to stay longer in Jones County. He said by just one extra day, visitors will spent $60 to $80 more. With an overnight stay, that increases to several hundred dollars a day.

     Looking into 2017, Hatcher said more multi-day tours are planning for Jones County.

     “There is a lot of interest out there,” said Hatcher. He said 40 percent of the information requests stem from those interested in Iowa’s Scenic Byways. Two of those got through or come close to Jones County: Grant Wood and Delaware Crossing.

     “We have a lot to sell here,” praised Hatcher. “It’s not a tough sell.”

In other county business:

     • The board approved an RFP (request for proposals) for courthouse security equipment. The three separate proposals will include panic buttons, a basic security camera system, and a deluxe camera system.

     Bids are due by Monday, Feb. 27, with the board opening them during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

     • The board placed on file Treasurer Amy Picray’s semi annual and quarterly investment reports.

     The semi-annual report (July 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2016) shows the county’s ending cash balance at around $18.6 million. Total expenditures at $34.6 million. Total revenues at $36.6 million.

     In the quarterly investment report (as of Dec. 31, 2016), the county’s total investment in CDs is around $2.1 million. The total in CDs, MMF and checking at $10.5 million. The county’s total assets sits at $18.6 million. Picray said that’s up $2.68 million from a year ago due to the mental health region.

     • The board held a public hearing and approved a request to change the service area of 132nd Street in Clay Township from Level B to Level C.

     Mike Loehr, a resident on 132nd Street was present to thank the board for the consideration.

     • A bid letting was held on Jan. 18 for the County Road X-75 bridge replacement project. Schroeder Construction from Bellevue was the lowest bidder at $684,000. County Engineer Derek Snead said he budgeted $750,000.

     There were three bidders on the project.


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