He might be looked upon as the Grinch that stole the hot rod show from Lockhart, but the Gonzales city council treated Joel Gammage like Santa as he delivered a shiny new toy. The milk and cookies were replaced with tax dollars and in-kind city services for his visit.
The “Hot Rods and Hatters” car show will be coming to town in six weeks after some long-winded exposition and little resistance from council members. A few stern questions here and some tweaking of tax dollars there, and council quickly passed the resolution with care.
The lone inquisitor of the night was Councilman Dan Blakemore, who said he was having trouble being convinced that Gammage — who owns Hat Rod Productions, the outfit that promotes the car show — could move all of the cars and people that attend his show “30 miles down the road to Gonzales” a mere weeks before the scheduled event.
“You need to calm some of my worries,” a concerned Blakemore said.
Gammage attempted to assuage the councilman, saying that 30 miles isn't much for some traveling across the country to get here. For others, it might be 30 miles closer.
“It hasn't been the first time a major event has had to change venues,” Gammage said. He explained that his brand is large enough to overcome such an obstacle.
Mayor Connie Kacir asked how many people have already registered their cars for the event in Lockhart, and would thus have to rearrange their plans. Gammage said that over 100 have so far, but that the remainder will come around beginning in January as they approach the event. He said that the level of commitment from the hot rod community is strong.
Kacir then moved to questions regarding the money that Gammage is expecting. She stated that the $17,000 in hotel/motel occupancy tax (HOT) funds that he was going to receive must only go toward promotion of the event in order to boost local hotel occupancy. She had more issues with the original $27,000 in in-kind dedications that Gammage asked from Gonzales. Kacir said that they needed to find a way to whittle that number down, and Gammage appeared to find ways to do so after some chatting with one of his associates and the city budget director.
Blakemore asked what Gammage's problem was with Lockhart, and was uncomfortable that he appeared to be testing which city could grant him a better deal. Gammage responded that Lockhart was unable to close Hwy. 142 that ran through town — at his request — and a proposed detour wouldn't work because it would cross a railway, which is prohibited by TxDOT rules.
Gammage said that he was not pitting one city against the other. Rather, it is purely a business decision by him.
After some more discussion on how they could cut some in-kind dollars out of the process by working a deal on trash services, Gonzales Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Clint Hille stood up to remind council of the large tax revenue bump that could come to town with the acceptance of the car show.
After a motion to accept the resolution by Councilman Bobby O'Neal, the item passed unanimously.
In other developments:
• Council authorized a $16,000 loan/grant application for Edwards Furniture for reimbursement of a new roof as recommended by the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation;
• Council approved a Convention and Visitors Bureau request to fund $2,500 for the Texas Independence Relay on March 29-30 and street closures;
• Council heard a detailed presentation from Municipal Judge Deidra Voigt and made a decision to continue to fund her salary of $1,950 per month;
• Councilman O'Neal was spotted with a most excellent ugly Christmas sweater.