San Juan County Council approved the latest round of Lodging Tax disbursements at their October 28 council meeting. According to Council member Rick Hughes, the county is focusing on improving infrastructure rather then constantly increasing the amount of promotion.
There are two 2 percent lodging taxes collected. The first half is for promotion. In the past, the revenue went to the Destination Marketing Organization (the Visitor's Bureau) after some was given to the three Chambers of Commerce (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez Islands).
In its most recent contract with the Destination Marketing Organization (the Visitor's Bureau), the basic contract is for $350,000. Another $75,000 is split evenly among the three Chambers of Commerce. Any amount from the first 2 percent lodging tax fund over the $425,000 is divided up as follows. The DMO receives 35 percent, the Chambers 15 percent of the extra. The rest of the promotional funding is disbursed by LTAC and the council.
For 2020 this means the LTAC and the Council had $226,662 available to award from the first two percent promotion lodging tax. The DMO will receive an additional $158,663 and the Chambers will split an additional $67,999.
The second two percent is for facilities. The total for 2020 from the second two percent is $827,661.
The LTAC received requests totaling $1,427,415. They awarded $1,054,323 as follows:
Alchemy Art Center: $7,000 (promotional funds)
Lopez Chamber of Commerce - additional: $7,500 (promotional funds)
San Juan and Orcas Chambers - additional: $7,500 (promotional funds)
Eastsound Restroom Renovation and Expansion: $145,423 (facility fund)
Marine Resources Water not Waste: $18,000 (facility fund)
Deer Harbor Planning Review Committee trails: $78,000 (facility fund)
Friday Harbor Film Fest: $3,000 (promotional fund)
Friends of Moran State Park: $44,000 (facility fund)
Friends of Woodmen Hall: $1,500 (facility fund)
Glenwood Springs Hatchery: $8,000 (promotional fund)
Keepers of Patos Light: $7,000 (promotional fund)
KWIAHT- Indian Island Interpretive Services: $2,900 ($900 facility, $2,000 promotional)
Lopez Center for the Arts - water tank liner: $9,000 (facility fund)
Lopez Center for the Arts -curtains: $12,000 (facility fund)
Lopez Island Grange: $15,000 (promotional fund)
Museums - San Juan, Orcas and Lopez: $105,000 (facility fund)
Orcas Center Lighting: $18,000 (facility fund)
Orcas Chamber - Wayfinding signage: $4,000 (facility fund)
Orcas Chamber Public Trash: $8,000 (facility fund)
Orcas Chamber website upgrade: $4,000 (promotional fund)
Orcas Island Lit Fest: $10,000 (promotional fund)
Parks and Fair Operating Budget: $301,000 (facility fund)
San Juan Community Theatre - handicapped access: $9,000 (facility fund)
San Juan Island Conservation - Leave No Trace: $5,000 (promotional fund)
San Juan Island Conservation Farm Tours: $4,000 (promotional fund)
San Juan Islands Ag Guild - Eat Island Grown Campaign: $9,000 (promotional fund)
San Juan Islands Museum of Art: $9,000 (promotional fund)
Theatres - San Juan, Orcas and Lopez: $120,000 (facility fund)
SJC Tourism Master Plan: $59,500 (facility fund)
Woman in the Woods: $2,500 (promotional fund)
Hughes said the Council is following the Tourism Master Plan part of which states as one of its priorities: Start-up funds for promising organizations or events. The Committee’s operating philosophy is to fund projects for up to three years, with the right to extend on a year-by-year basis.