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2012 room tax collections exceed expectations

The city of Hudson's lodging tax is projected to have generated $10,000 more in 2012 than it did in 2011.

The anticipated total for last year is $160,518, according to a report that Finance Officer Neil Soltis presented to the City Council Monday night. The final numbers on collections from the fourth quarter of 2012 aren't in yet.

The 3.5-percent tax on lodging at Hudson hotels and inns generated $150,045 in 2011. The increase for 2012 will be about 7 percent.

The Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau receives 70 percent of the tax revenue to run the city's tourism promotion program. If the projected revenue total for 2012 is accurate, the Tourism Bureau will get $112,363 for the year.

Most of the remaining money goes to community organizations or programs that beautify the city or attract visitors.

A fund balance is typically carried from year to year. The balance at the end of 2012 is projected at $22,203.

The City Council approved a 2013 room tax budget of $155,000.

The new budget moves funding for the Hot Air Affair celebration and The Phipps Center for the Arts from a grant program into regular spending for tourism promotion and city beautification.

The amount of money is relatively little, with $2,000 budgeted for the Hot Air Affair and $1,000 for The Phipps. Each received the same amounts the past two years.

The council, on the recommendation of Alderperson Lori Bernard, decided to continue with the grant program, but to wait until later in the year to see how much money, if any, to allocate to it. A committee of citizens picks the grant winners from among the organizations that apply for funding.

In the Finance Committee meeting preceding the council meeting, Mayor Alan Burchill questioned whether the Hudson Senior Center should continue to receive funding from the room tax. Bernard also questioned it, saying the city isn't involved in providing social services.

Burchill said the room tax funding is supposed to go to city tourism and beautification, and that the Senior Center, located in the Christian Community Home campus, doesn't fit in those categories.

The committee nevertheless kept $2,500 in funding for the Senior Center in the 2013 budget.

The Finance Committee and council also decided to continue to allocate 70 percent of total tax collections to the Tourism Bureau. The budget proposal given to alderpersons capped the Tourism Bureau's allocation at 70 percent of anticipated revenues, or $108,500.

Bernard was opposed to doing that. She indicated that the bureau should reap the full benefit of bringing visitors to the city.

When she asked why the cap was suggested, Burchill said there are other organizations and programs that need money, too.

Burchill later said the city might consider spending more money on the Fourth of July fireworks display and concerts at the Lakefront Park band shell.

Funding for the annual fireworks display has remained at $10,000 for a number of years. The 2013 budget for park concerts is $4,200, down from $5,000 in 2011.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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