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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Chamber, council huddle on motel tax opportunities

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

'An opportunity to invest in community'

Funds from the proposed hotel/motel tax could be distributed through an application process under a plan presented by the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Director Marilyn Monson met with the Storm Lake City Council yesterday to determine how an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue could be spent.

The proposal she presented calls for 25 percent of the funds to go to the Storm Lake City Council, 25 percent to the Convention and Visitors Bureau and 50 percent to an "Advisory Board."

The advisory board would be made up of seven community members. They would provide a set amount of funds every year that different groups and organizations could apply for. The board would review those applications, Monson said.

LeMars, which recently started a hotel/motel tax, has a similar board. Some of the projects recently approved for funding in LeMars through the advisory board include assisting the Fly Iowa program, the purchase of a double decker bus, billboard advertising, expanding the fairgrounds grandstand, and updating the chamber of commerce web site.

Locally, the funds for the Convention and Visitors Bureau would go towards promoting Storm Lake and Buena Vista County throughout the state, Monson said.

She said the chamber deals with tourists on a daily basis, from people walking through the doors asking for directions to bus tours scheduled to bring visitors into Storm Lake and Buena Vista County.

"It's all about bring more and more of them into Storm Lake and Buena Vista County," she said.

Already the county has a cohesive tourism plan - something which the Storm Lake Chamber will be recognized for this fall by the state tourism department.

Tax revenue would allow the community to further develop the plan to promote Storm Lake and the area. That plan would be used to increase the number of tours to the area, which in turn would increase revenue for local businesses, Monson said.

"The only way to increase that is to put more people into hotels and motels," she said.

Another part of that would be to get a positive image of Storm Lake throughout the state.

"Hopefully this will offset bad press the community might be receiving," Monson said.

The chamber will have a booth at the Iowa State Fair this year promoting Storm Lake, she added.

Eighty-two cities in Iowa have implemented a hotel/motel tax, Monson said.

Under Iowa law, a city must spend at least 50 percent of the funds on recreation, convention, cultural, entertainment, promotion or facilities.

"This is an opportunity for the community to invest in the community, but to also provide seed money to promote it," Monson said.

"It's an opportunity to think about what we can be - not what we are or what we have been," said Chris Nolte, director of Storm Lake Area Development and Chamber.

In other news:

* The city received a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation to replace the roof of the old Chautauqua building at the Storm Lake Municipal Airport which is being used as a hangar.

Total repairs are $25,000, according to Justin Yarosevich, administrative services director.

The grant will cover $17,500, with the city covering the remaining $7,500.

The Chautauqua building is around 100 years old, according to Kruse. The roof is 25 to 30 years, Yarosevich said.

* Buena Vista University was given permission to construct miniature brick arches in city right-of-ways on both sides of Grand Avenue, about 40 feet south of Iowa Street.

The arches will act as a gateway onto campus and each will bear the school's name. The arches will be about 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

City Engineer Jim Winterton said arches will be between the sidewalk and the curb, with the street side portion of the arches will be no closer than 10 feet from the curb.

Winterton said the structures will not interfere with city utilities, and that the set back from Iowa Street will not cause any visibility problems for traffic.

The agreement between the city and BVU allows for the city to terminate the contract upon 90 days written notice and to have the school remove the arches at no cost to the city.

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