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County offers up HOT funds to Texas Mile
by Jason Collins
Mar 21, 2014 | 40 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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For the past few meetings, commissioners have debated if they could legally and if so how much they should give to the Texas Mile. During their meeting last week, the county leaders offered $1,000 to help the event pay for promotion.
Jason Collins photo For the past few meetings, commissioners have debated if they could legally and if so how much they should give to the Texas Mile. During their meeting last week, the county leaders offered $1,000 to help the event pay for promotion.
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BEEVILLE – County leaders offered up $1,000 to the Texas Mile—an amount quite shy of the maximum amount that was initially proposed.

Commissioner Carlos Salazar had once again proposed that the court help by sponsoring the event with an amount “not to exceed $5,000.”

Money will come from the county’s newly created hotel occupancy tax.

Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said, “We still don’t have parameters or guidelines, and until we do, we need to limit our allocations to $1,000 per group.

“Once we get our guidelines, it could increase from there.”

Shannon Matus, who organizes the Texas Mile, said that she was thrilled with the county’s support.

“They basically said, ‘We want to help.’ Since this is their first time to do this, they said they wanted to discuss it more. I completely understand.”

No one on the court was opposed to helping the Texas Mile, knowing the amount of money brought into the community because of the event.

Judge David Silva said, “The Texas Mile pays Bee County residents either in maintenance work or security guards who live here or work here.

“They have a direct impact on Bee County and on the people that live here and work here.”

The only dissenting vote came from Commissioner Ken Haggard, who at their previous meeting voiced concern about using the HOT funds without having the money in the budget for distribution.

Haggard, during that Feb. 24 meeting, said, “The whole thing was set up to help the Expo Center—to do repairs, to build new buildings, to build new facilities.

“If we open the door now, and we allow $5,000 to go to the Texas Mile, who is to say that someone won’t come in here and say, ‘I have an event I would like you to fund it, and you have to because you funded the Texas Mile.’”

Haggard said that he had hoped they would be able to find the money in some other account within the county.

“I am saying we don’t have to deal with the Expo funds,” Haggard said. “We do need to help the Texas Mile. We need to promote the Texas Mile.

“By going here we are using funds we don’t really own. They are not appropriated.”

Ultimately, no fund could be found but that of the newly created hotel occupancy tax fund.

The county only last year began receiving these funds.

The county only receives 2 percent of hotel room fees, and that money is earmarked for repairs and improvements to the Expo Center, according to the resolution approved by the county and its corresponding bill.

According to the bill, the county can use the money for the Expo Center renovations, and also, according to the bill’s analysis, to “advertise and conduct solicitations and promotional programs to attract tourists and convention delegates and registrants to the county.”

Salazar said during last week’s meeting that there is ample money in the fund to offer the donation.

“Currently, I think there is about $40,000 plus in that account,’ he said.

The court did restrict that the money the members contribute to go toward something in relation to advertising and promoting the event and Bee County.

In a presentation to commissioners on Feb. 10, Matus said, “The Texas Mile has been here in Beeville going on 11 years. We were in Goliad, but we have always stayed in the hotels here and did business here.”

The Texas Mile actually moved to Chase Field back in 2010.

Matus said that the event owners continue to track just what their impact is on the community.

Last year, Texas Mile participants and spectators spent $798,772.

“This is money we are spending in the community and not money spent outside the community,” she said.

“That is dollars spent hiring people in the area—paying for services in the area, hotels, motels and food.”

All motel rooms are booked for this weekend—mostly by people staying there to attend the Texas Mile.

“People will come and bring and their families,” she said. “They are coming from 26 different states and seven different countries.

“Not only do we bring this event to the community, but we encourage people to come early and stay late.”

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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