CVB hopes to resolve bed tax issue after setting annual budget

1/18/2013

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

Members of the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau voted Thursday to renew efforts to resolve the ongoing "bed tax" issue with the Finney County Economic Development Corp., starting with a review of the CVB operating budget.

For nearly six months, the CVB and FCEDC have talked about how future, non-budgeted additional bed tax revenue could be held in reserve by the county commission to use for potential economic development incentives. The Finney County Commission asked the two groups to work together on new language for the resolution that covers how a 6 percent transient guest tax is used.

But the county rejected a proposed change by the CVB earlier this month because it wasn't specific enough concerning money received that exceeds the CVB's current $800,000 budget. As it stands now, revenue collected that exceeds the CVB budget is held by the county until the following year.

CVB board member John Washington said Thursday that the CVB is waiting for the December bed tax numbers so the board can accurately determine its annual operating budget. Knowing the amount of money received for the entire year will allow the board to better determine language for the bed tax resolution.

"I'd like to know what our actual unencumbered amount is so we can clearly give direction to economic development and also the county about how we want to handle that from here on out," Washington said. "Because whatever the verbiage is going to be, I don't want to have to revisit it next year and the year after."

Tom Walker, FCEDC board chairman, agreed.

"I think the county commission wants us to get it resolved," he said. "At some point in the not too distant future, we need to see if we can finalize this."

Walker said the FCEDC has not asked for specific dollars. The intent is for the county commission to hold the purse strings and make decisions about how to use the money. But Walker said the CVB needs to set a reasonable budget, whether it's $1.3 million, $800,000 or $450,000 like it was two years ago.

"Are you going to $2 million next year?" Walker said. "I think at some point CVB is going to have to develop a responsible and reasonable budget, and not see how much money you can amass, but how much you can live with."

The CVB board voted to have its representatives meet with FCEDC representatives in the next few weeks, and hope to have something to act on by its Feb. 21 meeting.

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