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Hotel-motel tax funds distributed in Woodstock

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 9:29 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – The city agreed to dole out its hotel-motel tax funds Tuesday to a group of nonprofits nearly identical to last year's slate.

Woodstock enforces a 5 percent tax on overnight stays and annually distributes the previous year's revenue to nonprofits. The money goes toward events that generate hotel stays, bring in media coverage or provide an economic boost, among other criteria.

Only the Mental Health Resource League joined the list since last year, applying for the first time and receiving $1,000 to put toward Fair Diddley, its annual event on the Woodstock Square.

In all, the city will put $74,000 toward 12 local and regional organizations like the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, Woodstock Groundhog Days Committee and Woodstock Folk Festival.

"All of us up here would like to have more dollars coming in to the hotel-motel tax so that we could turn around and distribute more dollars," Mayor Brian Sager said. "It's not always possible to do that so we have done the extent of what we could do."

The total is just $1,750 higher than what officials decided on a year ago, but unlike last year, they didn't have to take money from the tax's fund.

The fund – a surplus of money that came in during the early years of the program when applicants were low and the economy was stronger – shrunk to about $84,000 last year when officials pulled out about $20,000 to offset low revenue from the tax.

They did so under the assumption the economy would continue its slow improvement, and with the belief that helping organizations during the tough times was important, Sager said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said it was encouraging to see the hotel-motel tax bring in enough money last year that officials just barely had to dip into the fund this year. They'll take $600 from it to cover the total.

"There was a big improvement this year," Stelford said. "It went up $22,000, which is a big improvement as a percentage."

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