Denton City Council member Deb Armintor voted against all of the Hotel Occupancy Tax and Sponsorship Committee’s recommendations Thursday because she disagreed with the $50,000 recommended for the Denton Community Market, which had sought twice that amount.
Still, the recommendations passed at Thursday’s committee meeting with a 2-1 vote, with Mayor Chris Watts, who was voted the temporary chairman of the committee, and council member Jesse Davis both voting in favor.
“It [Denton Community Market] was the main thing, absolutely the main thing,” Armintor said. “I’m really concerned that this institution, the community market, that has done so much for Denton in such a short period of time and that’s so big ... I’m worried that they’re not going to be able to sustain without the full support of this request, which is such a small request compared to what the [Denton] Chamber of Commerce gets.”
The committee recommended a total of $1.4 million for the Denton Chamber of Commerce, which includes the Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Discover Denton Welcome Center.
The recommended funding for various local entities comes from hotel occupancy tax revenue, which comes from hotel stays around the city. For example, a one-night $100 hotel room will result in $6 of occupancy tax for the state and $7 for the city.
This year the committee recommended distributing a little over $2.5 million in HOT funds.
Most entities that applied were recommended a 2% funding increase, while others such as the Denton Community Market, the North Texas Fair and Rodeo and the Denton Black Film Festival were recommended to receive more than that.
Both Watts and Davis agreed on a recommendation of $50,000 for the Community Market, which asked for $108,191 and opened this season with a $20,000 deficit.
“I don’t want to say much at this point,” said Vicki Oppenheim, the nonprofit market’s executive director. “We don’t really know the impacts yet. We appreciate the increase in funding and we have to evaluate whatever’s finally approved.”
Two new entities that applied for funding were Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival and Real Waves Radio, which operates KUZU-FM (92.9). Real Waves applied for funding last year but did not receive any.
State law determines who can receive HOT funds. The city is required to budget at least 1% of the annual revenue for advertising, and no more than 15% can be spent on the arts or historical programs.
Denton has its own restrictions on HOT funding in that at least 2.4% of the money that can be spent on the arts must go to public art projects, and the hotel occupancy taxes collected at the Embassy Suites by Hilton will be reimbursed as a subsidy for the Denton Convention Center.
Also on Thursday, the committee decided to discuss with the City Council using other funds such as the general fund for downtown Square maintenance and made no recommendation of HOT funds for that purpose.
After deciding on recommendations for the HOT funds, the committee also went forward with recommending sponsorship funds, for which there were 15 applicants and $88,000 available.
The largest sponsorship recommendation went to the Denton Kiwanis Club for its Fourth of July Fireworks Show, while Explorium children’s museum, Habitat for Humanity and Serve Denton were among the other entities that were recommended sponsorship funds.
The committee also decided to send to the City Council the issue of city employees using Amazon Smile when making P-card purchases. The program run by Amazon allows users to donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charity of their choice when they shop at smile.amazon.com.
The hotel occupancy tax and sponsorship recommendations made by the committee will now head to the full City Council for approval as part of Denton’s annual budget.