H.O.T money a hot topic in Brownfield - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/23/09

H.O.T money a hot topic in Brownfield

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By Ann Wyatt Little  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -    H.O.T money was a hot topic in Brownfield at the city council meeting Thursday. For nearly 40 years the council has contracted with the Chamber of Commerce to oversee the spending of the hotel occupancy tax dollars.  But, after a recent council vote, the city is not renewing the chamber's contract. NewsChannel 11's Ann Wyatt Little has the details.

The issue is how the H.O.T money or the tax revenue from folks staying at hotels and motels in Brownfield is being spent. The chamber relies on the H.O.T money to operate and bring business to the area. Mayor Glenn Waters says if that money doesn't put a head in the local hotel beds then it's not being used as efficiently as it could be.

In a packed council meeting nearly an hour and a half was devoted to one line item - the issue of H.O.T money or hotel occupancy tax revenue.

According to the chamber's budget, Mayor Waters says 21 percent of the H.O.T revenue was used for events to bring people to Brownfield and the remaining 79 percent was used for salaries, printing, and other costs associated with the chamber. "It will probably hurt the chamber because they depend on some of that money to pay part of the executive director's salary and other staff salaries," says Waters.

And that's one reason why chamber board member Pat Brashears along with others urged council to reconsider the decision. "Is it best for Brownfield for these funds to be taken away from the chamber?" asks Brashears. She says the chamber will move forward and continue to promote business. "Our staff knows the guidelines and I'm disappointed. I thought we had a slight opening that might get them to reconsider but that didn't happen," says Brashears.

After reviewing state guidelines, Waters says the chamber's use of H.O.T money isn't illegal, but council wants to ensure the money efficiently brings people to Brownfield, so they've looked to similar sized towns for guidance. "Big Spring has taken all H.O.T money away from the chamber and started own visitor information center and I believe Lamesa is in between. They take H.O.T money and give so much to the chamber," adds Waters.  

Mayor Waters says current chamber contracts will be honored, and this decision doesn't mean funds won't be available in the future for the chamber, just not in its current form.

Council plans to appoint a five member board to oversee the use of H.O.T money which will be discussed in two weeks at the next council meeting.

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