Organizations plead their case for hotel/motel tax money

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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As the new fiscal year approaches, the city staff of Weatherford faces decisions of how to use their budget, as well as what city organizations they will financially support for another year.

Those organizations got to present their case at a special meeting called by the City Council Aug. 6, a meeting that also included some discussion on the new budget.

Organizations each had 10 minutes to give a summary of what they have accomplished for the good of the company in the last year or why the city should continue to give them funding.

The money they are requesting will come from the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue or the General Fund.

Organizations such as Center of Hope, Freedom House and the Parker County Committee on Aging requested general funds, citing the number of people they helped in the past year as a reason for more funding.

The Doss Heritage and Culture Center, Texas Opry Theatre, Theatre off the Square and Weatherford Chamber of Commerce asked for money from the hotel taxes by emphasizing ways they bring tourists to the city and its hotels.

City Secretary Malinda Nowell read a letter from resident Wade Calhoun who asked that the city carefully consider which organizations receive money, especially since the city has considered an increase in tax rates to properly fund specific departments.

“I feel that just like budgeting in your personal lives, if there is a shortfall in one area you must cut back in other areas,” Calhoun wrote.

Calhoun said he considers giving so much money to other organizations may be imprudent when the funds are so greatly needed elsewhere.

“Our jobs are to take care of our citizens,” Mayor Dennis Hooks said of the decision they face. “It is a balancing act.”

In the letter, Calhoun asked that the city make sure they only support those organizations that are essential to the community and make sure they dedicate enough funds to departments such as streets.

Chad Janicek, director of management and budget, presented the proposed general fund portion of the budget and proposed a 1.35 percent increase in property tax instead of the original 2 percent mentioned in a previous meeting.

City staff was able to lower that percentage by combining different programs and in other areas. That will be used to restore two of five parks department positions that had been frozen.

At that meeting, council members expressed their desire that there be no increase but also their understanding that streets especially did need more funds for maintenance and repairs.

A recent study led to the city being informed that $1.2 to $1.4 million would best keep the streets in repair. Although the city will not give that area that size budget, they will increase it from the approximate $600,000 budget the department had been forced to do their work with.

More meetings and public hearings will be held before the proposal and considered tax rate can be accepted.

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