Council considers new bed tax grants

Tourism Advisory Committee could become city standing committee

Corvettes line Whiskey Row during the Prescott Corvette Club’s Annual All Corvette Car Show in downtown Prescott. (File photo)

Corvettes line Whiskey Row during the Prescott Corvette Club’s Annual All Corvette Car Show in downtown Prescott. (File photo)

Tourism money, and the committee that makes recommendations on it, will be among the issues considered by the Prescott City Council this week.

The council will conduct two meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 29: a 1 p.m. study session; and a 3 p.m. voting session. Both meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

During the voting session, the council will consider formalizing the Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), which has been meeting since 2009 as an independent body that advised the city’s tourism department.

At the council’s Aug. 8 meeting, City Attorney Jon Paladini voiced concerns about the independent nature of the committee and whether it complied with the requirements of the Arizona Open Meeting Law.

A memo from the city states that when the committee was formed, “Council expressly desired to make it as an independent body from the city to maintain a diverse and independent viewpoint on tourism matters.”

Community Outreach Manager John Heiney pointed out that the committee made recommendations to the council on the annual allocations of bed tax grants to local events, but otherwise, the committee’s monthly meetings were mostly informational.

Along with establishing the TAC as a city standing committee, the council will also consider appointing the 10 members and one council liaison who currently serve on the committee, including: Tim Graham, Amore Cianciola, Fred Veil, Kim Villalpando, Steve Bracety, Margo Christensen, Cindy Gresser, Bill McLeary, Matt Brassard, Sheri Heiney, and City Councilwoman Billie Orr.

In a related matter, the council also will reconsider its allocations of bed tax money (raised through a tax on hotels and motels) to local events.

Under the new recommendations, the Corvette Car Show and two other local events would receive the full amounts they requested in grant allocations, rather than the amount that had been recommended earlier by the TAC.

The matter generated controversy Aug. 8, when the City Council considered recommendations that, in some cases, were significantly lower than requested.

Representatives from the Corvette Car Show disputed the reduction in its recommended grant amount, and council members asked city staff to bring back an adjusted recommendation, incorporating the events’ requested amounts.

Heiney explained that the Tourism Advisory Committee had been trying to follow the City Council’s earlier instructions, by focusing on the marketing costs for the events.

That interpretation led to significant decreases in funding for the Corvette Car Show, the Wildlights & Animal Sights; and the 43rd Annual PAAC Watson Lake Show. City staff is recommending that the three events receive “100 percent of their requests,” Heiney said.

In other action, the council will:

• Consider a $252,456 contract with Lyon Engineering & Surveying, Inc., for “post design and construction support services” for the Highway 89 widening project.

A city memo states that Lyon was awarded the original design contract in August 2012, and the post-design contract was negotiated “in order to provide continuity between design and construction of the project.”

•Hear a presentation by the city public works department on six upcoming downtown street-improvement projects that are in various stages of design, along with a plan for delivering the projects “more efficiently and cost effectively,” a memo stated.