PALESTINE — Palestine City Council members ironed out a few details in the municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax funding policy during their bimonthly meeting Monday.
The policy allows for the disbursement of funds to organizations who request it for the arts, historical preservation, and special events or programs in Palestine that promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry.
Revenue is collected from all lodging facilities located within the city limits.
During the work session, City Manager Wendy Ellis explained to the council that according to the policy, organizations would submit applications that would go to the city's tourism committee for review, “and they would make recommendations on whether or not that organization should be funded, and on what levels,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the city worked with the the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association and looked at communities with funding already in place “to come up with a policy that we think would work.”
Accordingly, the policy outlines guidelines for how the city can spend the Hotel Occupancy Tax, in accordance with section 351.101(a) of the Texas Tax code, which include the following categories: improving the city's convention and visitor's bureau, promoting the arts, historical restoration and museums, promotion of sporting events, and signage directing the public to sights and attractions.
An applicant must be a legal entity governed by a board of directors, within the city limits or within reasonably close proximity to attract tourists to the city, and must demonstrate that the event or program would promote tourism. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate good financial standing.
“If we work with an organization and we're going to pay something up front, we need to know that they have the financial ability to see the event through, whatever it is that they’re taking on,” Ellis said.
She said applications must be received 90 days prior to an event to allow the city sufficient time to process the request.