|Ken Kraft with January's hotel tax grant applications|
DiscoverLV, which gets 68.75% of the hotel tax, called Hamann after receiving its check for the month of March.
"Where's all our money?" asked President Mike Stershic.
"What do you mean? We sent you all we received."
Hamman told Stershic he'd look into the possibility that DiscoverLV was being shortchanged.
"Right now, through the first quarter of 2016, the revenue collected is only up 1.6% higher than it was in 215. Now you say, 'What's the problem? We're up 1.6%.' If you go back a year in time, for the first quarter of 2015, it was up 14%. When you go back another year, it was up 8%. ...Hamman cautioned against spending "all the money that we think we're gonna' get because, if we don't get it, we have to make some hard decisions about reducing the payouts to the individuals." He warned that, if hotel tax revenues drop 11% this year, the County will have a problem.
"By the time we get to the end of the year, that increase usually comes down. Well, you'd say it should go up in the summertime. For some reason, the revenues are more robust in the beginning of the year than at the end of the year. ...
"My concern is last year we were at 14% in the first quarter, but at the end of the year, we were only up 8 1/2%. It dropped from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. The previous year when it was eight per cent [in the first quarter], it was four per cent [at the end of the year].
"I'm just telling you what history has shown us. We're only up 1.6%. If we drop four per cent or five per cent, we're going to physically collect less hotel room rental tax revenue in 2016 than we did in 2015. Mike Stershic said, 'You're right Doran. It's basically stagnant out there.'" ...
Hamman predicted that a $1 million grant to Steelstacks and PBS-39 should be completely paid in September or October.
Department of Community and Economic Development Director Diane Donaher, prior to her abrupt resignation, had told Council that there would be hotel tax money vailable for a second round of tourism grants this year. Hamann advised waiting to see whether revenues pick up.
Council President John Cusick stated that Council should avoid pledging any additional money to outside groups until next year.
Hotel Bethlehem Managing Partner Bruce Haines agreed with Hamman's assessment about hotel stays in the first quarter of this year. At the Hotel Bethlehem, they were up about one or two percent, but in the previous two years, the increases were much higher. Haines is unable to explain why the increases were so high during 2014 and 2015. But he disputed Hamman's view that rentals will drop below the first quarter as the year goes on. According to Haines, the fourth quarter is actually the busiest time at hotels in the Mid-Atlantic region, while first quarters are usually stagnant.