While there are definite plans of hosting the annual UFO Festival, many aspects of the event, such as the creation of a festival committee, are still hanging in the air.
According to City Manager Larry Fry, the city allocated $150,000 in Lodger’s Tax funds in its 2012 budget for the festival, without a specific identification of how that would be accomplished.
Fry said the council is in charge of deciding how and when the committee will be established.
Greg Neal, who served as co-chair of the festival last year, said he and Julie Shuster, also co-chair, do not understand the city’s holdup. “We’re concerned of the apathy from the City Council. We filed a request in August to do it again. It’s just dragged on and on and on,” he said.
In the beginning of October, a workshop was held to discuss the different issues surrounding the festival. Since then, discussion has seemingly halted.
“We have not pushed because they said after the workshop that we would have another one in two weeks and nothing ever happened,” Neal said.
The City Council will meet later this month for its regular business meeting. Currently, there is nothing on the agenda regarding the festival.
“We anticipate having other meetings here in the month of January to make that final determination as to what’s going to happen with the festival, and the funding, and those kinds of things as to the way that the festival will be put on this year,” Fry said.
The festival was allotted $150,000 last year. Of those founds, nearly $50,000 wasn’t used according to Neal.
The unused money is put back into the Lodger’s Tax fund, which is segregated from other funds. “Any unallocated funds or anything that comes in is put into that fund, and then the expenditures are made out of that fund for various purposes throughout the year.
Once the funds are collected for Lodger’s Tax, it’s always Lodger Tax, and only used for the eligible purposes for which Lodger’s Tax funds can be used,“ Fry said.
In a broad sense, the funds from the Lodger’s Tax are used for tourism. The primary purposes for which the funds are used are advertising and promotion, Fry said. The tourism impact within city is also weighed heavily. “The Lodger’s Tax is generated by people staying in the local hotels, it’s 5 percent of the base room rate. It amounts to around $900,000 a year. The Lodger’s Tax is the only tax the city collects locally,” Fry said.
“All we can gather is that they’re unhappy with this for some reason, but it’s never been verbalized or anything else. We saved $50,000 almost over the prior year. We just don’t understand what’s going on,” Neal said.
Fry indicated that it was necessary to establish some lead time to enable adequate planning and implementation of the festival. “The longer it goes on, probably the harder it is to make all those things happen in the right time frame. I don’t know that we’re at all too late now. As you can get closer toward the time of the event, it gets harder to make those plans,” Fry said.
“It’s even later now than it was last year. They run us out of time. You can’t do everything you need to do in the timeframe we’ve got,” Neal said.