Committee recommends funding distribution for lodging tax

SIDNEY — The Sidney Lodging Tax Committee will recommend for Sidney City Council to approve some or reduced amounts of the 2021 lodging tax budget requests. Other requests were turned down this year to limited funds available.

The Oct. 20 meeting was held by a hybrid method, with board members able to attend in council chambers and others able to join virtually.

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 2021 annual budget.

According to meeting minutes, Sidney Council member Steve Klingler was elected to replace Council member Steve Wagner as the chair of the Lodging Tax Committee at the top of the meeting.

For next year’s budget, the total funding available is projected to be $221,272, but $309,100 in funding requests was received.

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.

Several requests were not funded for 2021, including Shelby County Historical Society, Compassionate Care of Shelby County, for Graceland Civil War grave stones restoration and downtown solid waste receptacle replacements.

After some discussion, committee members decided to eliminate the 2021 request of Shelby County Historical Society for $3,000, as a county-wide tax levy for funding was recently passed.

Shelby County Historical Society Executive Director Tilda Phlipot asked if the 2020 Historical Society funding was still available, meeting minutes said. Phlipot said several events planned for 2020 were postponed to 2021 and the allocated funds were necessary to carry out the plans. Sidney Finance Officer Ginger Adams told her the funds were encumbered and will be available.

Committee members also opted to not fund Compassionate Care’s request of $50,000, which is a new organization to request funds, because of the limited availability of 2021 funds for next year for members.

When discussing new trash receptacles in the downtown, members felt they would be aesthetically pleasing, but the project could be postponed without a detrimental impact to the downtown. Committee members also noted the continued restoration of Civil War graves at Graceland Cemetery could also be delayed without significant impact.

Some of the larger requests the committee is recommending Sidney City Council to approve include Sidney Shelby Economic Partnership, $66,000; Sidney Alive, $60,000; and Senior Center of Shelby County, $38,000. Also automatically included in the budget, according to state law, is the 25% of all lodging taxes taken in goes to the Sidney Convention and Visitors Bureau for a total of $81,953.

Sidney’s Shultz’s Battery Park sculpture grouping was approved for $10,000. The Shultz’s Battery Park sculpture grouping for $60,000 was previously encumbered for the project from lodging tax funds. The estimate for each statue was approximately $37,500. Members opted to provide enough funding to complete two sculptures in the grouping.

Also approved were the full requests of Sidney Shelby County Workforce Partnership for $12,500, Sidney Music & Arts Festival for $10,000, Sidney Bicentennial Celebrations for $5,000, Sidney Civic Band Association for $3,000 and for the Sidney Waterpark’s free swimming lessons for $3,000.

Gateway Arts Council requested $9,000, but was approved for the 2020 funding amount of $7,000.