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Three requests for Local Option Tax funding were approved by the Salmon City Council at its July 20 meeting.

LOT Commission chairman Jim Bockelman presented the proposed projects and said a fourth request made by the Salmon Valley Community Pool was put on hold pending a firmer estimate of necessary improvements to the pool facility and equipment.

The council approved a $10,000 request from the Salmon Hockey Association. The money will be used to improve the walking surfaces in and around the rinks. Old conveyer belts used at Bear Track Mine have been providing walkways however they are hazardous when wet and donít prevent dirt and gravel from being tracked onto the ice. They will be replaced by mats specially designed for skating facilities. The matting will cost $4,000. The concrete work that goes under the matting will consume the remaining $6,000 and will lengthen the life of the matting. The concrete work will be contracted locally.

The Salmon Arts Council was given $3,250 in LOT funds to help fund the Seventh Annual Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival. The event has grown by around 100 people each year to last yearís crowd of over 700. The event brings blues artists, breweries and a tasty barbecue menu to the city. Over the years it has become a favorite of micro brew enthusiasts from Idaho Falls, Hamilton and Missoula. It is also a vehicle for local organizations to use for fund raising.

Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival raises funds for the Salmon Arts Council. Any profits are earmarked for Arts Education Programs which each serve in excess of 900 local school students.

A request of $3,000 for the Salmon Valley Racing Association was approved by the council. The association asked for $6,000 however the LOT Commission recommended an amount of $3,000 to be used specifically to pay insurance costs of $575.00 per race. The money will cover insurance costs for the July through September races.

During discussion of each request questions were raised about how the various local groups always came up with needed funding before the LOT and has LOT now become the Ďdeep pocket.í Bockelman said the commission has discussed similar questions at length. He said LOT funding does allow organizations to realize more profits however as in the case of the Blues, Brews and BBQ the event is not only a fund raiser it brings many people to town for the benefit of all businesses.

A question was asked as to whether the city is obligated to make up the difference if promises are made and tax revenues from lodging facilities donít materialize.

City Finance Director Amy Fealko said all approved requests are made with on the contingency of money being available. City Attorney Fred Snook Jr. stated,ĒItís not an obligation to the City Council because itís an authorization of the tax expenditure. If the tax money isnít there it canít be spent.Ē Bockelman added that there are members of the LOT Commission who watch the numbers very closely and base recommendations on the amount of money available.

A mention of a need for more banners to identify an event as being LOT funded drew some criticism during one of the council meetingís Public Comment periods. City resident Robert Dunlop voiced his opinion that LOT efforts and money would be better spent towards promoting events that will better the local economy.

The LOT Commission meetings have been moved from the fourth Tuesday of the month to the third Tuesday so that the LOT reports will be ready for presentation at the councilís first meeting of the month. The next LOT meeting will be August 16 at 5:30 in the Salmon Valley Center meeting room.

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