After months of debate, the Platteville Common Council has decided to alter how room tax revenue is supervised. During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the council voted 4-2 to repeal the tourism commission and create a tourism committee, with its members to be appointed by the council president. In addition, the council voted 4-2 to recreate the ordinance dealing with room tax revenue. The common council, with recommendations by the tourism committee, will be responsible for spending 70 percent of the total room tax revenue collected for "tourism promotion and development in the City of Platteville." The city treasurer will administer the room tax program. The changes will be effective after the necessary publication.
Currently, the city, through the tourism commission, has a contract with the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce for the chamber to act as the city's tourism entity. That contract expires Dec. 31, 2013. Even with the change from a commission to a committee, council members indicated the contract will be honored with the chamber.
The tourism entity (chamber) currently receives about $57,000 (70 percent) of the room tax revenues annually from city room tax fees from local hotels and motels. Twenty-eight percent of the room tax fees goes to the city's general fund, while two percent is returned to the hotel and motel owners.
The switch from a commission to a committee will offer more of the authority as to where the 70 percent of room tax funds are appropriated to the common council. The tourism commission had the authority to designate a tourism entity for the city and ultimately where 70 percent of the room tax funds went. The tourism committee will have less power. The committee will make recommendations to the council, which holds the final approval.
As previously reported, Kathy Kopp, executive director of the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce, noted the $57,000 is about one-third of the entire chamber budget. She had concerns about whether the chamber would receive that funding once the contract expires.
Ron Holl, owner of the Super 8 Motel in Platteville, spoke against changes to the current arrangement. "This keeps politics out of the picture," he said, noting the council president already has the authority to appointment members to the tourism commission.
"The tourism commission is a good fit," added Holl. "It has worked. It has always been my philosophy, if it isn't broke, why fix it?"
Patrice Steiner, alderwoman, wondered why people are assuming the council wants to take money away from the chamber. She said the change adds one step to the process. "It's a pretty simple issue," she said.
"We're not saying the chamber shouldn't be the entity," said Steve Becker, alderman, noting the accountability should sit with elected officials.
Becker made the motion to approve repealing the tourism commission and creating the tourism committee. Becker, Mike Dalecki, John Miller, and Patrice Steiner voted in favor of the motion, while Ken Kilian and Barb Daus voted against the motion. Eileen Nickels was absent. The vote was the same in regard to the room tax issue.