Help senator help Lighthouse Festival
The Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce is issuing a public awareness campaign to protect local fairs, festivals and non-profits from state legislative lodging tax grant restrictions beginning July 1, 2013.
The Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival and other local state fairs, festivals and non-profits could be negatively impacted and have their futures in question without needed public and legislative action in the 2013 legislative session.
RCW 678.28.080 legislates the use of locally collected lodging tax dollars within a district. Those dollars are then given back to the cities and counties, and are made available to the local community via the grant process.
Each community creates a voluntary advisory council, made up of hoteliers, public officials, and community members. The advisory council creates, administers and awards these grants based on collective community objectives and goals.
Current law allows advisory councils the flexibility to include non-profits, smaller entities, fairs and festivals to apply for grant dollars and utilize those funds for marketing, advertising and operational costs.
The discretionary choice in granting funds under RCW 678.28.080 is set to expire on June 30, 2013. Lodging tax funds would be restricted to fairs, festivals and non-profits for marketing and advertising uses only.
Restricting lodging tax advisory committees abilities to structure grants to meet their community objectives and needs will create hardships and will force some fairs, festivals and art shows to end.
For just the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, the impacts would be severe and potentially catastrophic to the festival’s future. The Lighthouse Festival’s operational costs are about $125,000.
The festival board has worked aggressively to generate additional support through local sponsorships and enhanced revenue attractions, while watching a very tight bottom line.
Despite our valiant efforts, we are dependent on the flexibility and availability of those grant dollars.
If the current lodging tax funds legislation be allowed to expire and the newer language instated, it will severely cripple the Lighthouse Festival.
Grants funds provided in the past assist us in offsets to costs of security, salaries for staff, Saturday night fireworks show, staging, lighting, generators, tents, website development, marketing and advertising costs.
The replacement language currently set to being July 1, 2013 would restrict lodging tax grants so that non-profits, fairs and festivals would be ineligible for operational assistance if needed.
A sizeable sum of any budget is in advertising and marketing, but not enough to offset the additional costs for the festival or any other organizations sustainability.
The festival generates a growing number of visitors and attendees to Mukilteo. Each year the festival has enjoyed continued growth, and our hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and businesses have garnered greater exposure and increased sales revenue.
Not to mention the additional benefits to the city by showcasing our various art shows, Rosehill Community Center, Mukilteo Farmers Market, Future of Flight and the Museum of Flight.
To lose this valuable event would be a tremendous loss for our city and our county. Investments in our community have played a role in our national recognition for Mukilteo, as one of the 10 best small cities in the United States to live in.
If we cannot sustain such an event, image the impact on other less fortunate communities trying to make something happen.
Our message is simple yet clear to the state Legislature:
The beauty of RCW 67.28.080 is in the flexibility of the current language within the law. Any lodging tax advisory council should continue without restrictions to adopt their own grant guidelines for building community enhancements and partnerships.
Choice allows each community to decide to start something new, generate life into something old, or make something great, better. It stirs ideas, creativity opportunity and growth for everyone.
No community is a one-size-fits-all and dollars that are generated should not be diminished to a one-size-fits-all matrix. The built-in mechanism of choice is what makes the grant dollars work well.
The checks and balances become inherit within the advisory council’s role in determining highest and best use. It does not need to be marginalized or restricted by state law.
This is a local benefit and it never should be subject to micro-management or indifference to those who work to build better a better community. There is no benefit to advertisement and marketing if there is nothing to attend or see.
Any new adaptation in legislation concerning RCW 678.28.080 should retain all of the former language set to expire on June 30, 2013, with the added notable change of no expiration dates or negotiated parsing of dollars, by percentage of revenues.
The Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce and the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Board support state Sen. Karen Fraser of the 22nd Legislative District, in the introduction of new legislation in the January session.
We encourage our friends and local festival, fair and non-profit supporters to contact your local legislative leaders and tell them you want them to support Sen. Karen Fraser of the 22nd Legislative District in her second attempt to bring this out of committee and to the floor in the upcoming January legislative session.
Contact Fraser’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce at info@MCC.org or phone at 425-347-1456.
Jeanmarie Trapp is president of the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and will serve on the Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Board next year.