The Gonzales Visitors Center may soon receive an influx of hotel occupancy tax (H.O.T.) funding. The Gonzales Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCVB) Advisory Board voted Sept. 19 to recommend the Visitors Center receive a funding increase in the amount of $35,000. The recommendation now moves back to the Gonzales City Council for approval.
Though the amount is less than the initial $41,335 requested, the recommended increase is still higher than the Visitors Center’s currently budgeted H.O.T. contribution of $20,000. GCVB board president Dawn O’Donnell and board member Barbara Crozier said they identified an additional $10,000 within the GCVB budget to add to the $20,000 already allocated. The remaining $5,000 will come out of the Gonzales Main Street budget.
“People aren’t coming here to find the tourism director, they are going to the Visitors Center and those ladies are amazing,” board member Suzanne Sexton said before amending her motion to recommend $35,000 to the Visitors Center.
Prior to the vote, board member Ken Morrow proposed giving the Visitors Center a percentage of the collected H.O.T. funds quarterly.
“That way, we get a partner that works with us to put heads in beds,” Morrow said. “As occupancy goes up, their income goes up. A couple years ago when occupancy went down, we were forced to cut them and cut everybody else, so it would be perfectly tied to occupancy.”
Though Morrow’s proposal generated interest from the board, no action was taken. The board decided to wait until the vacant tourism director position was filled before changing any funding functionality. Following that discussion, the board voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation.
The recommendation now moves to city council for approval. Daisy Scheske Freeman, Gonzales Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture executive director, initially pitched the funding increase to city council at its Sept. 5 meeting. According to Freeman, the chamber operates the Visitors Center at a loss and receives less H.O.T. funding from the city than other similarly sized and structured chambers in the area.
Multiple council members spoke in favor of the increase at the meeting, but council opted to allow GCVB to have a say before moving forward. Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir told the GCVB board, “I heard no (council) opposition for increased funding.”
Gonzales City Council will meet next on Oct. 10.