Basalt Chamber seeks $170,000 in public funds |

Basalt Chamber seeks $170,000 in public funds

BASALT – The Basalt Chamber of Commerce is seeking a $170,000 economic-vitality, stimulus and marketing package from the town government.

The chamber has collected funds from the town in prior years but not at that level.

“We do know that it’s a lot of money,” chamber president and CEO Heather Smith told the Town Council at a recent meeting. But the funding request is more comprehensive than in the past, she said.

In 2012, the town contributed nearly $62,000 for marketing and economic development and $11,250 for special events. The marketing funds include annual revenues from a 1 percent lodging tax. That tax raised $14,000 for 2012, according to Smith.

For 2013, the chamber wants $20,000 on top of the funds raised by the 1 percent lodging tax, $80,000 for special events, $10,000 for business development and $60,000 for four visitor-information panels that would be placed at four locations in town.

Smith said the chamber’s efforts benefit the town as a whole and not just its members. It won’t spend the public money on any program exclusively for its members, she said.

The special events, for example, include a minimum of four street parties downtown plus at least one block party at Willits Town Center. The chamber will host at least eight summer concerts in its Wednesday evening program. It also will market the stage in Lions Park as a venue and help coordinate holiday events, homecoming activities and other offerings.

“Not more than 10 percent of this request would go toward any administrative costs, and a complete report would be provided as directed from council either quarterly, semiannual or annually,” Smith’s written request to the council stated.

The council raises approximately $115,000 per year from member dues, advertising and fundraising. It has 425 member businesses and a staff of two.

The council didn’t vote on the chamber’s proposal. The board is just starting its budget process, and members are anticipating some tough decisions.

Councilman Rick Stevens noted that the chamber’s request for $170,000 represents more money than the amount the town anticipates sales tax revenues to grow in 2013.

Council members asked Smith to return at a later meeting with information on how much governments of other towns in the Roaring Fork Valley contribute to their chambers of commerce.

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