Mayor Keith Snyder was absent for the evening; thus, Melody Anderson
was serving as mayor pro tem. She told the council the list of
expectations was the result of discussions by Snyder, city
administrator Sue McLaughlin, Tom O'Donohue and herself.
the council to review the list of expectations and if there were any
suggestions for additions to the list, to bring those to the
attention of the committee.
The following is a copy of the document handed out in council
The chief elected official of the entity imposing the tax (the
county board chairman in the case of the county board and the
mayor in the case of the City Council) should appoint the
members of the Tourism Board, if there is one, with those
appointments confirmed by the legislative body of the entity
(the county board or the City Council, as the case may be). That
way there is an elected official and an elected body accountable
for the results of the imposed tax.
The Tourism Board, if there is one, should be of a reasonable
size (no more than eleven), must include an appropriate number
of representatives of the City of Lincoln and at least two
members representing the hotel industry, and must have
appropriate term limits on its membership (to ensure adequate
turnover and fresh ideas).
The Tourism agency must have an updated and periodically
reviewed job description for each employee of the agency and
must at least annually evaluate the performance of each employee
against that job description. If a particularly position is
funded with any portion of the hotel/motel tax, the description
for that position must include a delineation of the specific
duties of that position that will be focused on promoting
additional overnight hotel stays.
The agency must provide an annual operating plan that outlines
activities for the upcoming year, that describes those planned
activities broken down by visitors (those coming and spending a
day) and overnight guests (those spending one or more nights in
a local hotel), and that reports on the results of the prior
year's operating plan.
Included in that operating plan, the agency should, for each
piece of significant property it owns (e.g., the covered wagon,
the Mill, etc.), detail an annual capital projects plan that
outlines annual maintenance/upkeep costs, any improvements
planned for the property for that year, any expected costs to
finish developing that property, an annual operating plan for
the property, and a thorough description of how each of those
costs will be provided.
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As part of that operating plan, the Tourism agency must define
and report its level of involvement with each and every event
supported by the agency. Possible levels of involvement might
include: "Donor" (where the agency simply contributes a
financial amount to the event); "Participating Sponsor" (where
the agency contributes financial and has staff and/or board
members volunteer at the event); "Host" (where the agency plans,
raises funds for, and executes the event).
As part of the operating plan, the Tourism agency must define,
begin tracking, and over time improve the agency's Return on
Investment ("ROI") for the hotel/motel taxes received by the
funding from the agency must include a section where the
applicant details how the event will boost overnight hotel stays
and how the applicant will track and report the overnight stays
generated by the event.
Earlier this year, the city of Lincoln began exploring the
possibility of taking over the hotel-motel tax revenues that are
currently being collected by the county. By law, the tax collected
on room fees is submitted to the state by motel operators. The state
in turn distributes the funds back to the entity that is set up to
receive it, which currently is Logan County.
The city has the right to claim the tax revenue generated by all
the hotels or motels within city limits. It is expected that this
could generate more than $150,000 a year for the city. The money
would have to be used to promote tourism, but would not necessarily
have to be given to a tourism bureau.
The city recently expressed dissatisfaction with the performance
of the tourism bureau, and discussions have gone so far as to
include whether or not the bureau might cease to exist. The city
does not have the authority to dissolve the bureau, but they do have
the authority to claim the hotel-motel tax that in part funds the
During discussions in the council chambers in recent weeks, it
was expressed by Anderson that perhaps the bureau isn't living up to
the city's expectations because they have not had sufficient
guidance from the city.
As a result, the committee of four was formed to outline those
[By NILA SMITH]