City Council Awards Lodging Tax Funds

The Chewelah City Council distributed hotel/motel tax funds to six different local organizations at the April 3 meeting to help promote tourism in the area. The awards were based on recommendations from the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee and proposals received by the March 31 deadline.

According to Chapter 3.92 of the Chewelah Municipal Code, the lodging tax is a special local excise tax collected for the sale of or charge made for the furnishing of lodging at a rate of 3 percent. These funds are allocated for the “purpose of paying all or any part of the cost of tourist promotion, acquisition of tourism-related facilities, or operation of tourism-related facilities, or to pay for any other uses as authorized in RCW Chapter 67.28.”

Seven organizations requested a total of $16,870, but the city had $10,826 available for distribution and was not able to fund all requests at 100 percent. They usually only get about three proposals.

The job of the advisory committee, which consists of councilmembers Dorothy Knauss, Krisan LeHew and John May, was to prioritize the funding distribution and recommend an appropriate amount based on what was available. To make their decision, Knauss said they surveyed all three motels in the city on what events fill their rooms each year and they all said Chataqua, skiing, golf, the ORV rally and car shows. She also said regular events like weekly farmers markets help bring traffic as well as those visitors returning later to stay.

These funds were awarded (in order of priority):

1. Community Celebrations for Chataqua Advertising: awarded $3,700 (requested $5,000). 2. Chamber of Commerce for the Tourism Office: awarded $3,700 (requested $5,000). 3. Chewelah Community Float for Fuel: awarded $1,850 (requested $2,500). 4. KCHW Radio for Advertising local events: awarded $866 (requested $1,170). 5. Chokes and Spokes Nostalgia Days Car Show: awarded $350 (requested $350). 6. Sons of the American Legion for the ORV Rally: awarded $350 (requested $350). 7. Stevens County Historical Society for signage for the Indian Agency: awarded $0 (requested $2,500).

Knauss said the top four were found equal in priority and funded at 74 percent of what was requested. The fifth and sixth asked for a small amount and so were awarded 100 percent of their request, she said.

The Stevens County Historical Society was not awarded any funds due to a large number of requests covering established events and limited funds available. Knauss said they encourage them to come back next year with more specific information on how the Indian Agency building works and benefits the town. The Indian Agency building in Chewelah is now on the National Historic Register.

Mayor Clancy Bauman asked if the Blue Angels Car Club submitted a request as they asked for $300 the previous year for the Rev It Up for the Vets Car Show in August. Although no formal proposal was submitted, LeHew said they discussed allowing smaller requests throughout the year to be decided by the council at the time of proposal.

However, May said he will most likely vote no at that time since it is past deadline even though he has been a member of the Blue Angels for a long time.

The city receives lodging tax funds quarterly.

In other business, the council approved the purchase of a new brush truck for the Chewelah Fire Department for $47,830 out of the fire department reserves.

The city had originally budgeted $40,000 for the truck and $21,208 to install a foam system, however Chief David DeVeau said he has struggled finding what they need at that price and the truck he found, located south of Portland, OR is a “beautiful truck” that fits all their specifications and already has it’s own foam system saving the budget about $13,380.

The Ford diesel truck has 90,000 miles and the seller is delivering it for $800, which DeVeau said is very reasonable. He also said they threw in a brand new light bar and although it has been inspected by a certified mechanice, DeVeau said the seller would cover any issues that arise. They expect to have the truck within the week since fire season is near, he said.

DeVeau had originally requested a new brush truck to make the Chewelah Fire Department more attractive to the state when needing extra equipment to fight wildfires. DeVeau said one call should cover the additional cost of the truck since they are paid per day it is used.

Additionally, the council also approved five municipal leases (good from 4/1/13 to 12/31/13) for organizations or individuals renting space in the municipal building. The annual leases are now written in the same format and come due at the same time each year to streamline the leasing process.

Room 202 is leased to Nils Johnson, Room 214 is leased to Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital, Room 107 is leased to McGrane and Schuerman, Room 220 is leased to Country Massage, Room 201 is leased to NEW Alliance Counseling, and although Room 220 is leased to Healthy Perceptions, their agreement was tabled until some questions about the agreement could be clarified for the tenant.

The Hangar Sublease with Chewelah Flyers, Inc. for 4/1/13 to 3/31/23 was also tabled to due insufficient amount of information available as City Administrator Mike Frizzell was absent from the council meeting. City Attorney Charlie Schuerman said he was concerned about the length of the sublease as many things can change over ten years.

The council also approved the first amendment to the Pole Contact Agreement with CenturyLink. To attach their phone line to city electric poles, there is an annual rental fee per pole and the amendment lists how the fee increases each year. Currently the fee is at $13.50 per pole.

Councilwoman Sharon Ludwig said the Parks/Cemeteries Committee is now meeting regularly to create a 20-year plan. Ludwig said they have already been working on cleaning up the cemetery to improve its appearance. “We are working really hard on the cemetery,” Mayor Bauman added.

CA Frizzell and Nick Lasko were excused from the April 3 council meeting as both were out of town.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for April 17 at 6:30 p.m.

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff