City Council debates how to spend tourism promotion money
What’s more important in Glenwood Springs – having clean streets or putting giant promotional ads in glossy magazines that lure tourists here? For Larry Dragon, executive director of the Lower Valley Trails Group, some of the city’s tourism promotion money should be spent on enhancing tourist attractions such as city trails. Others, including Glenwood Caverns Resort manager Russell Disburger, think the city should concentrate on spending tourism money on attracting tourists to town with advertising. The Glenwood City Council is struggling over its priorities when it comes to spending the city’s tourism promotion money gathered mostly from the city’s accommodations tax. Tourism promotion revenue is expected to exceed $572,000 in 2007 – more accommodations tax revenue than the city has collected at anytime over the last six years. Currently, the city uses 100 percent of its accommodations tax revenue on marketing Glenwood to tourists. Last year, $520,625 was budgeted for tourism promotion, but only about $485,000 was spent, continuing a four-year trend of spending less than the council allowed for marketing. Now, the council is deciding whether to make no changes in how the money is spent, or to create a funding base for tourism marketing and spend money exceeding that base for non-marketing tourism promotion, like street cleanup, city beautification and the arts. Council members made no decision at their meeting Thursday night, but Mayor Bruce Christensen directed City Manager Jeff Hecksel to draft a resolution describing how the money should be allocated to be discussed at the next city council meeting. Hecksel said the resolution will not mention the specific percentage of the money that will go to marketing, allowing council members to fill in the blanks. About a dozen Glenwood-area residents and business owners chimed in on the issue at Thursday’s meeting, but city council members’ views varied on how the money should be divvied up.Councilman Larry Beckwith urged the council to ensure that the idea of tourism promotion isn’t construed to mean spending the money on a proposed bypass through town, which would allow tourists to get around much easier. Council member Dave Johnson agreed, saying the scope for the money’s use on capital improvements should be limited. “I believe that the intent of the fund is, yes, to get tourists here, and to get them to come back,” he said. Councilman Joe O’Donnell cautioned that while he believes downtown street and sidewalk maintenance belongs in the general fund, there’s limited money in that fund, and some maintenance money may have to come out of tourism promotion money. Councilor Chris McGovern said she’s open to spending tourism money on capital improvements, including downtown beautification. Finally, Councilor Kris Chadwick said she’d like to see some tourism money go to promotion of the arts. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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