Events, organizations get lodgers' tax funding
May 1, 2019
Nine events and organizations received final approval for lodgers’ tax funding Thursday from the Tucumcari City Commission, all at the levels recommended by city staff after review of the city’s lodgers’ tax board.
In some cases, the city granted more than the lodgers’ tax board recommended.
City Manager Britt Lusk said the city was able to raise those amounts because it is expecting to receive more in lodgers’ tax revenue than expected in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The city was budgeted $315,000 in lodgers’ tax funds for fiscal 2020, which begins July 1, compared to $300,000 in fiscal 2019, which ends June 30.
At the end of fiscal 2020 on June 30, 2020, the lodgers’ tax fund is expecting a surplus of $21,099, more than double the cash balance expected June 30 this year, which is $10,153.
The largest single amount the commission granted Thursday was $27,000 to the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce to fund advertising and promotion efforts aimed at increasing tourism. That was $2,000 more than the lodgers’ tax board had recommended but $14,600 less than the chamber had requested.
The vote was unanimous among the four commissioners who attended. Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield did not attend the meeting.
The Tucumcari Railroad Museum received $3,500 but only after discussion of whether it puts “heads in beds,” meaning occupancy in the city’s motels.
The Lodgers’ Tax Board had recommended no funding for the railroad museum because board members saw no connection between the museum and increased overnight stays.
Litchfield, in a letter read by Mayor Pro Tem Todd Duplantis, recommended an allocation of $5,000 to the museum that includes significant donations of private funds and donations of memorabilia.
In the letter, Litchfield said she found it “very frustrating” the lodgers’ tax board recommended no funding and said visitors drop in on the museum “from far and wide.”
In addition, she said, Frank Turner, the museum’s founding member, traveled from South Carolina to make the museum’s case to the lodgers’ tax board.
Duplantis said he agreed with the mayor’s request for more railroad museum funding. He pointed out the museum does not charge an entry fee and depends on city government and Tucumcari MainStreet for funding.
District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya said he has dropped by to see the museum several times, only to find it closed. He suggested the museum establish regular hours.
Moya then moved to accept the $3,500 recommendation of city staff.
The commission voted 3-1 for the $3,500 level, with Duplantis casting a “no” vote because he favored a higher funding level.
Duplantis also abstained from voting on allocations for Rawhide Days and the Rattler Reunion due to his involvement in organizing and sponsoring these events.
Rawhide Days was allocated $12,000, matching the lodgers’ tax board recommendation, which was half of what Rawhide Days organizers had requested.
The Rattler Reunion received $4,000, which was $1,000 more than the lodgers’ tax board had recommended but $3,000 less than organizers had requested.
Rockin’ Route 66, an event scheduled for late June, received $20,000, matching the lodgers’ tax board’s recommendation. The amount was $3,500 less than organizers had requested.
Other allocations included:
• The Columbus Club, $9,000 for its New Mexico Music Showcase event, which matches the amount requested and recommended by the lodgers’ tax board.
• Fired Up, $9,000, which is $1,000 more than the lodgers’ tax board recommendation and equal to what was requested.
• Wheels on Fire 100, $2,000, which matches the lodgers’ tax board recommendation and the amount requested.
The commission also approved allocations totaling $45,000 for billboard advertising to Lamar Advertising and Sun Vista Billboards.
In addition, the commission approved a $181,228 allocation for Tucumcari Convention Center operation and maintenance, nearly $20,000 less than the amount requested and recommended by the lodgers’ tax board.