City examines tourism, event money

DALLAS — The Dallas City Council will review possible changes to the policy governing how its transient lodging tax, known as the hotel/motel tax, revenue is distributed.

The tax is collected by the city from hotels and motels in the city to pay for community events and tourism promotion.

The city contracts with the Dallas Area Visitors Center for both tourism promotion and community event operation. Those contracts expire soon, in December 2018 for events and June 2019 for tourism. DAVC’s execution of those contracts has been under council scrutiny in recent months due to concerns about effectiveness of tourism programs and lack of growth in community events.

City Manager Greg Ellis said the city’s policy on the TLT revenue was established in 2013 and needs updating.

“What I’ve heard a lot is the current council policy and the resulting contracts with the Dallas Area Visitors Center need more detail,” he said. “The council has shown an interest in monitoring that a little more, getting more detail and more control over the funds that are sent to the visitors center.”

Ellis presented a draft policy to the council Monday. The proposal designates the city manager as the contract administrator and refers “disputes or challenging situations” to the city’s Administration Committee, a subcommittee of the council.

“The contract administrator will receive and review all reports required by the contract(s) and forward them to the Administrative Committee with a staff memorandum assessing the quality and thoroughness of the reports,” the policy read. “Questions or comments from the committee will be referred back to the contractor by the contract administrator.”

“It’s for the council to look at and modify as they wish and come back with a resolution,” Ellis said.

The proposed policy states that the city can split the tourism promotion money (70 percent of TLT revenue) into two allocations: part for marketing programs to attract tourists, defined as visitors traveling more than 50 miles to the area to stay the night; and the other part for maintaining a visitors information center.

“Any TLT funded contractor will be required to provide statistics to the contract administrator, which provides justification for a brick and mortar facility based on use and effectiveness of the TLT dollars being spent.”

The other portion of the tax revenue (30 percent for event organization) would be divided among six events: Summerfest, Winterfest, Sounds of Summer Concert Series, Freedomfest, Polk County Bounty Market, and new weekend concert event Lunar Bash.

In a change from the current contract, the proposed policy allows for the events to be handed off to different entities.

“The current five-year contract in effect awards the production and management of the five communitywide events to a single organization,” the policy reads. “This policy recommendation allows the administrative committee to consider each event/festival on its own merits and award contract and funding to each based on the strengths of the application of a prospective sponsor for singular or a package of events.”

The council didn’t take action on the policy Monday.

“The direction would be to let the council review this and come back in a subsequent meeting with ideas,” Ellis said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.