By JOY BROWN
Findlay nonprofit groups will get a chance to appeal for a portion of the city’s hotel/motel tax money in November.
The opportunity was prompted by a City Council discussion Tuesday about the Hancock Historical Museum’s request to receive 10 percent of the tax collection for three years, beginning in 2015.
Sarah Sisser, the museum’s executive director, told council about the organization’s increasingly “event-driven” approach that is drawing thousands of people from outside the county and state, thereby boosting economic development.
Some council members seemed agreeable to Sisser’s request, praising the museum for its efforts.
“I’ve always felt in the past and currently that it’s (museum) a hidden gem,” said 5th Ward Councilman John Harrington, who noted his father was a museum supporter.
“I think what you guys do is wonderful,” said 2nd Ward Councilman Randy Van Dyne. “I think it would be well worth it to consider your request.”
Others took a more cautious approach.
Andy Douglas, 6th Ward councilman, asked if any other organizations have asked for hotel/motel tax funding. Mayor Lydia Mihalik said none has.
Seventh Ward Councilman Bob Nichols suggested the November meeting, to give other nonprofit groups the opportunity to plead their case for such funding if they choose. An exact meeting date was not set Tuesday.
Nichols also advocated distributing the tax revenue by dollar amount rather than as a percentage, the same position he took last fall when the Findlay-Hancock County Arts Partnership successfully lobbied for 10 percent of the tax during a three-year period.
Van Dyne said the Arts Partnership receives roughly $35,000 a year.
The hotel/motel tax rate is 3 percent. Revenue is shared by Findlay and Hancock County. Total tax revenue is projected to be about $510,000 this year.
Auditor Jim Staschiak said over the years, the revenue has grown at a slow but steady pace. An increase is expected in the near future due to a Hilton Garden Inn being built along Interstate 75.
Staschiak said most of the city’s share of the tax revenue goes into the general fund for operations ranging from Police Department salaries to Municipal Building utility bills.
Separately Tuesday, council appropriated $609,000 for the second phase of improvements to Logan Avenue in the West Park neighborhood. The project involves road improvements and sewer line separation work.
“The amount included in the 2014 capital improvements plan was based on preliminary engineering estimates. Based on the bids, the actual amount needed for appropriation exceeds the budgeted amount by approximately $128,000,” said Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer. “The overages are due in large part to rock excavation costs,” and will come from the water, sewer and storm water funds, he said.