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Portions of five funding requests brought before the Local Option Tax Commission were approved by the Salmon City Council at its May 1 meeting.

LOT Commission Chairman and Councilman Jim Bockelman presented the requests to the council along with some suggestions of alternatives to make the allocation process more precise in terms of the timing between expected revenues and award of the funds.

The additional $4,400 needed to refinish the swimming pool facility floors was recommended by the LOT Commission and approved by the City Council. The total project cost is $9,400 which will include removing layers of paint now covering the floor and repainting it with a non-skid surface. The surface is guaranteed for ten years. Swimming pool improvements and maintenance is listed as a priority in the Local Option Tax ordinance approved by voters.

The LOT program went into effect in February of 2010 and is just entering the busy season of its fourth fiscal year. Bockelman explained that funding awards are based on revenue expectations developed over previous years.

The LOT monies are gathered from a voter approved tax added to the amounts charged customers of lodging establishments. Those funds are then awarded by the LOT Commission to support local events that will generate more visitors to the area. The summer season obviously produces more income than other months of the year and there are past statistics on which to base projections. The requests for funding, however, come before the money has actually been collected and are most often for events several months in the future. That creates a lag between awarding funds and actually having the money in hand.

Bockelman said that 2013 revenue figures are slightly less than last year at this time and the funding requests have increased. He told the council that while there is little doubt the revenue will come in, it may be time to rethink the system. Banking the LOT income for one year without expending any of it and then using those banked funds, knowing the exact amount available, to grant requests could be one alternative. In the meantime organizations are being asked to scale back requests to what they need for now and then reapply for additional monies a little later in the season and closer to their event.

Bockelman said the Salmon PRCA Rodeo Committee initially requested $9,000. The committee’s goal is to take advantage of an opportunity for the Salmon Rodeo to become the leading rodeo event in the state. The rodeo will take place during Fair Week. The Commission recommended that up to $4,500 be awarded so the Rodeo Committee can get started on securing special entertainment and sound equipment. The committee was advised to reapply for additional funding when more funding becomes available. The Council approved the LOT Commission’s $4,500 recommendation.

Lemhi Little League Baseball asked for $6,500 to go towards the Max Hemmert Invitational Baseball Tournament. The commission recommended $3,200 and suggested the league reapply a little later for additional funding. The City Council Approved the $3,200.

The Salmon Arts Council requested $3,900 for the ninth annual Blues, Brews and BBQ event. Bockelman said past year’s events have brought 300 visitors to Salmon and overall attendance is expected to be around 750 people. The commission recommended $2,900 for now. The City Council approved.

The Whitewater Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Association asked LOT for $5,000 to be used to bring Wylie and the Wild West Concert to the organization’s Cowboy Ball in July. The event is WTRRA’s primary fund raiser. The Commission recommended up to $2,500 be awarded in order to officially engage the entertainment and once again suggested a reapplication for funds when more are available. The City Council agreed and approved the $2,500.

Research into the LOT funding award process will continue.

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