DUNCANVILLE — The traveling public pays a special tax when they rent a hotel room in most areas of the country. This tax is often a bit higher than the sales tax for other goods and services in the same city or state. The City of Duncanville City Council has examined requests from various civic organizations desiring to receive portions of the tax collected from local hotels.
Economic Development Director Jessica James gave an overview and the background history regarding Hotel Occupancy Tax Grants. Her presentation highlighted the intricate criteria involved. Under the Tax Code, every event, program, or facility funded with hotel occupancy tax revenues must directly promote tourism and directly promote the convention and hotel industry in Duncanville. Tourism is defined under Texas law as guiding or managing individuals who are traveling to a different, city, county, state, or country from that in which they live.
With that in mind, every expenditure of the hotel occupancy tax must clearly fit into one of nine statutory categories for expenditure of local hotel occupancy tax revenues. This includes everything from funding the establishment, improvement, or maintenance of a convention center or visitor information center to expenditures that promote the arts.
Because the population of the City of Duncanville is under 125,000, this allows for the city to expend up to 15% of the hotel occupancy tax revenue collected for art-related programs that promote tourism and local hotel and convention activity. However, it is not enough that a facility or event promotes the arts; Texas law requires that the arts related expenditure also directly promote tourism and the hotel and convention industry.
The City Council passed a resolution recommending the distribution of the funds with councilmember Stephen Rutherford recusing himself due to a possible conflict of interest since he serves on the Lions Club Board of Directors (a Lions Club sponsored event is a proposed beneficiary of some HOT funds grants).
State Government Tax Collections per Capita | InsideGov
The city staff, under the direction of the Texas Hotel Lodging Association, revamped its HOT Funds Grant for the coming fiscal year. The application, selection, and reporting process were updated to ensure all allocated funds meet the legal qualifying criteria.
Staff recommended a breakdown of art and tourism projects that bring visitors to the city and that fit the criteria for the new fiscal year. Pending the approval of the new budget, the International Museum of Cultures (IMC) will receive $26,000 for a pole sign on Highway 67 and for as advertising outside of Duncanville intended to bring people to the city. The Duncanville Community Theatre (DCT) is also in line to keep its doors open with a a similar budget from a grant, also for advertising outside of the City of Duncanville.
The Duncanville Chamber of Commerce is the official Visitor Center. It is set to be allocated $21,412.40 for building maintenance that directly impacts the visitor center portion of the building.
The City is also host to a variety of multi-day sporting events that bring in many visitors during certain times of the year. Staff proposed that both the Duncanville Lions Club Sandra Meadows Basketball Tournament and the Great American Sports event both be eligible for Hotel Occupancy Tax Grants.
Council emphasized that while existing tourism draws are an important part of the city, Duncanville leaders also encourage additional entities to apply and take part in the tax grant program if the appropriate criteria is met.
criteria is met.