Committee recommends funding distribution for lodging tax

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The Sidney Lodging Tax Committee will recommend for Sidney City Council to approve some of the 2020 lodging tax budget requests. Other requests were turned down or tabled, pending further information.

Committee members felt a discussion was needed with all of City Council members before funding decisions could be made on some requests during Tuesday’s meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to consider, according to the provisions outlined in the Lodging Tax Distribution Policy, grant-eligible activity applications that were received for the 2020 annual budget.

For next year’s budget, there were requests for $140,186 more than available revenue. Also, as City Manager Mark Cundiff pointed out the city has $121,992 in new requests and $22,500 of increased requests for next year’s budget.

To quality for the lodging tax grant money, projects or activities carried out by the city or other non-profit organizations must meet at least one of the following:

• Encourage economic development in the city of Sidney;

• Contribute to the cultural well-being of the community;

• Seek to improve the quality of life for Sidney residents;

• Encourage patronage of Sidney hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

The committee tabled part of the $40,000 request of the Sidney Bicentennial Celebration until more information is provided about certain events during the celebration. Members approved $10,000 of the $40,000 until further explanation is given.

Also tabled was a request for $50,000 to purchase the Sidney Big Four Passenger Station. Members talked about obtaining the station to preserve its history in Sidney and considered the fear of deterioration, but were conflicted on how to proceed. Due to budget restraints and dollars needed, the committee felt it was a topic to discuss with City Council.

Some discussion ensued, when discussing the 2020 lodging tax budget, about Raise the Roof for the Arts and Sidney Alive’s requests. Raise the Roof for the Arts requested $25,000, which is $15,000 more than was requested in 2019. After speaking with Sidney Alive Executive Director Amy Breinich, who was present Tuesday, the committee renamed the Raise the Roof request to be called Sidney Music & Arts Festival (Raise the Roof for the Arts/Sidney Alive) because the two organizations are partnering-up to bring the new festival to Sidney in the summer of 2020. Breinich explained Raise the Roof’s increased request is to hopefully purchase a new stage for the festival and other future events downtown. She noted a second stage would be necessary for the festival to happen, and others in the community would also be able to use it. After learning the need, the committee approved the $25,000 request.

Sidney Alive requested $65,000, but was only granted $60,000. When asked about the reason for the increase of $5,000 over last year’s requested amount, Breinich said it would help bring the organization’s event coordinator to full-time in 2020. The committee declined the increased amount.

Some of the other larger requests the committee is recommending council to approve include Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership, $66,000; Senior Center of Shelby County, $38,000; Shelby County Historical Society’s Civil War weekend project, $25,000; and the Shelby County Historical Society, $20,600.

Of Sidney’s Shultz’s Battery Park sculpture grouping request for $30,000, only $15,000 was approved, as the remaining amount is to be raised privately, said Committee Chair Steve Wagner.

The committee approved $12,500 of the $15,000 Sidney Shelby County Workforce Partnership requested. And only $7,000 of the $10,000 the Gateway Arts Council requested.

Also approved were the Sidney Civic Band Association’s request for $3,000 and the city of Sidney Zenas King Bridge Marker for $1,700.

The committee turned down the requests of the city of Sidney Water Park (for swim lessons) for $3,000 and the city of Sidney History in Your Backyard for $5,293.

Wagner said after the discussion is held with City Council and other information is obtained, they will review the remaining funds to distribute.

City Council will meet soon to further discuss the committee’s recommendation for lodge tax funds.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.