Loveland City Council plans to change tourism funding – Loveland Reporter-Herald

For more than a decade, Visit Loveland’s staff and overheads have been funded by proceeds from the city’s 3% lodging tax. But a sharp drop in accommodation revenue during the pandemic and recent increases in benefits costs have left the department struggling to find funds to carry out its core mission.

On Tuesday, Loveland City Council rejected a motion to transfer departmental overhead costs to the general fund, but agreed to consider an additional $250,000 budget appropriation for the remainder of 2022.

“As people who are supposed to make these financial decisions with our taxpayers’ money, I think it’s good to have a little more responsibility in this regard,” Councilor Andrea Samson said during the discussion. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support it. I just think we need to have something up front that talks about it so our stakeholders know where that money is going.

The motion was presented during New Business by Councilor Pat McFall, who liaises with the Community Marketing Commission. He called the current funding arrangement unfair because Visit Loveland is the only city service that pays overhead from its annual budget. This leaves the department operating on a “slim” budget and hurts the city’s marketing activities.

“It’s totally unfair to the staff, who are some of the hardest working I know in the city,” he said. “Overhead costs consume 55% of their collections, 44% of which is staff costs.”

Cindy Mackin, director of Visit Loveland, told the council the move would more than pay off with increased tourism. According to cellphone data research, visitors to the town of Loveland in 2021 added an estimated $19 million in tax revenue to the town’s coffers, thanks to increased lodging and sales taxes, a she declared.

Mackin also argued that his department’s budget shortfalls have put the city behind other municipalities in the region in terms of attracting visitors, conventions and other major events.

“We’ve lost a lot of ground in the market over the past two years,” she said. “We weren’t able to market or compete effectively because we only spent the bare minimum of what we could because we had to survive. We took money out of the reserves and we got funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and we fought very hard for a budget of $700,000. But we have lost ground in terms of regional competition. ”

During discussions of the measure, several members of city council supported the idea of ​​increasing the department’s funds, but were wary of incurring nearly $500,000 in expenses for the general fund, especially since there are other priorities in the City.

“This is another unforeseen general fund expense that was not planned for this year,” Councilor Jon Mallo said. “It’s going to be $250,000 this year, $500,000 next year. It will be competing with other departments for projects. Relatively it’s not that many, but it also bites into anything that we as advisors might have as favorite projects, things that we want to do that need to come out of the general fund and $250,000 don’t won’t be there.”

Councilors Steve Olson, John Fogle, Don Overcash and Samson expressed similar reservations and suggested bringing the article back to council with a formal ownership process.

Ultimately, McFall’s motion was defeated 4-5 in a top-down vote, with McFall, Mayor Jacki Marsh, Councilman Richard Ball, and Mallo in favor. Samson then moved a motion to hear an appropriation for the remainder of 2022 at an upcoming meeting.

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