The four motels are the Belmont Inn and Suites, La Quinta Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Texan Inn.
About a year ago, the county approved a hotel occupancy tax of two percent. This is on top of the seven percent that the city charges. These two amounts combined reach the maximum of nine percent that can be charged locally. The state charges an addition six percent.
The guidelines for the county are that the money be used to improve the Expo Center while the city stipulates that their portion be used to promote tourism.
Commissioner Ken Haggard, during a meeting in late July, said that as this fund is approaching a year in existence, it was time to start looking at where it will be spent and on what projects.
“Right now, the county has $80,000 in its hotel occupancy funds but no formalized plans of what to do with it,” he said. “I know we had a committee formed with four county members and three outside members of the community.
“I know they met.
“I just don’t see any guidelines of how these funds are to be used.
“I don’t see any paperwork to fall back on.”
Judge David Silva reminded, “That initial committee was formed for prioritizing.
“I don’t think it was within their scope to spend the money.”
Those priorities include new fencing, a water well, sprinkler systems and air conditioning.
The big question though is “how much will it cost?”
John Contreras, who heads the maintenance department for the county, said, “We have some figures on certain items.
“We have been getting with contractors to get us some stuff.”
Silva said that while the $80,000 sounds like a lot, these are no small projects being looked at for the Expo Center.
“It is not enough money to move on a major project at this point,” he said.
Come budget time, the county leaders will be able to decide what project or projects the money will go towards.
“For us to decide on the priority, we need a cost,” he reminded. “We know what money we have; we know what we want to spend it on.”
The question they will answer in the coming weeks is what the money will be spent upon.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at editor@mySouTex.com.