New Guidelines Established for Tourism Requests

By Tim Schmidt, Record Editor
Posted 10/3/11

Warrenton aldermen last week passed a new policy establishing guidelines for granting tourism funds to nonprofits and fundraising organizations. Under the policy, the guidelines limit the amount of …

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New Guidelines Established for Tourism Requests


Warrenton aldermen last week passed a new policy establishing guidelines for granting tourism funds to nonprofits and fundraising organizations. Under the policy, the guidelines limit the amount of funding to a group to $600 per event and it can only be provided to cover expenses associated with advertising. Also, documentation of official designation by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization must be provided, the event must demonstrate the ability to bring tourists from outside the city and the organization seeking the funds must be present when the request is presented to the tourism commission. In addition, all donations must be made in the name of the nonprofit organization and the group’s representative will be required to sign an affidavit confirming the requirement. Similar to any tourism fund request, reimbursement from the city will only occur when all documented expenses have been received and verified by the city. That procedure allows the city to make sure organizations aren’t using the funds to generate a profit that they otherwise wouldn’t make. Terri Thorn, director of operations/finance officer, said the tourism commission recommended putting together guidelines on how to deal with future requests. She pointed out that next year’s budget will include $3,000 allocated for nonprofits or fundraising groups, meaning that five events will be able to be funded. “Especially last summer, there seemed to be an influx of this type of request to tourism,” she said. “So, they recommended putting together some guidelines that would spell out what the requirements are for those types of funding.” Aldermen voted 5-1 to adopt the new policy which was presented to them at the March 1 board meeting. Ward 3 Alderman John Clark was the lone member opposing the policy. His stance was similar to one he took in September when he voted against a request for $450 to cover advertising and miscellaneous expenses for the Wounded Warrior Bake Sale and Craft Show. “I am not in favor of a nonprofit organization using tourism money,” Clark said. “I think it could be spent in other directions. This is an improvement from what we had by far, but I am really uncomfortable with nonprofit organization where you get into what is fair for one and what is fair for another.” Mayor Greg   Costello, however, reiterated his support for the funds being used for the event. He said the estimated turnout for the craft show and bake sale was between 200 to 250 people and that around 30 vendors participated. Proceeds from the event were donated to The Fischer House, which provides free lodging for families who have veterans and active military receiving treatment at the St. Louis VA Medical Center. “I think that is a prime example of what the tourism tax is for,” Costello said. “It’s one of the few funds since I’ve been involved in the city, we spend every year and try to encourage more tourism and more visitors to the community. If we’re going to eliminate nonprofits, I have to understand what groups you will allow.” Aldermen also commented about how the Warrenton Alumni Association used the tourism funds in the past for a mailing alerting alumni to the annual banquet. They said the use of those funds helped the alumni association reached out to 300 to 600 people, some of whom lived out of state and would travel to Warrenton for the event. Since alumni were staying at hotels and eating out during their weekend stay, the sales tax revenue generated by that type of event went back into the following year’s tourism budget. Clark said continuing to allow nonprofits and fundraising organizations to receive tourism funds may lead to more requests from similar groups. It was noted, however, that having a limit on the funds essentially made them available on a first-come, first-served basis. “What is the difference if they are nonprofit or for-profit as long as the end result is added revenue to the city?” Ward 1 Alderman Phil Tallo asked. Ward 1 Alderman Dan Dieckmann added: “Like others have said, getting people to stop at our exit is good.”