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Hotel-motel tax split reviewed
Official may propose change
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A Dawson County commissioner who is looking into the amount of hotel-motel tax revenue spent on promoting local tourism said he won't propose a change to the budget for the coming year.

District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon did indicate, however, that he may recommend a change in the county's contract with the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce for 2015 that would allow more money to be designated for parks.

"I would say because we're charged with the distribution, we have a chance to try to affect that distribution," he said during the commission's meeting Nov. 14. "It just seems to me that ... we give them general direction on how to spend it.

"I'm looking at [20]15, saying I think we need to change those percentages."

The discussion followed a presentation from County Attorney Joey Homans on the chamber of commerce's management agreement and services contract.

The annual contract outlines the chamber's role in promoting tourism and documents that the county will pay it a percentage of the hotel-motel tax revenue for the service.

"Your options are you can apply all the restrictive funds to promote tourism, and if you choose to identify tourism product development, then that would affect the terms of the contract," Homans said.

"That would affect the contract with the chamber, because then obviously they wouldn't be getting all the funds to promote tourism and you would have to adopt a resolution identifying that specific tourism product development you were approving."

Under the current arrangement, the chamber receives about $181,000 annually, plus $10,000 designated for the Dawson County Arts Council. A draft of the contract distributed by the county last week did not specify the percentage.

According to a report by Christie Haynes, president of the chamber and office of tourism development, the impact of tourism in the county is 410 jobs and $100,000 a day in direct spending.

"That's huge for a community of our size," she said.

Haynes highlighted nearly four dozen tourism-generating attractions and businesses in Dawson, as well as several festivals and fairs her office promotes.

"These are events [and] are organizations that without the support of an office of tourism development ... truly wouldn't have the resources that they need to be successful," she said. "That's really what our goal has been this year, to be that partner.

"Our goal is to be a partner in bringing in revenue to this county, because that money that is generated ... by any of the other festivals and fairs that we partner with comes directly back to the county."

A vote on the contract is scheduled for the Dec. 5 commission meeting.