CHIPLEY — The Tourism Development Council may be getting out of the grant awarding business.
Members discussed funding options during the TDC workshop on Monday, and decided to hold a workshop in May or June to further discuss options for promoting Washington County events outside of outright fund disbursements.
“When I first came on this board, the TDC was seen as a big old fat cow,” said Council Chairman Joel Pate. Council funds have dwindled over the years, and Council Member Scott Sweeney said he didn’t think giving out grants was the best use of the TDC’s limited resources.
The TDC traditionally has given grants of up to $2,000 to community events with the stipulation that the funds be used for advertising. Over the past two years, the TDC had been cutting down the amounts the various events.
“I think the TDC should be in charge of promotion for events in the county,” Sweeney said. “We could buy big blocks of advertising on radio stations, such as Beach 95.1, and promote the various events.”
Sweeney also noted that updating the TDC website, another project the council has been working on, can be instrumental in promoting events in the county.
“We have discussed this in the past,” Council Member Ted Everett said. “I agree, we can buy a lot of advertising with the same funds by the block.”
Everett said the council should hold a workshop to discuss whether or not to continue the grant program before the next year’s budget is due in August. The first draft of the budget is due in May, Administrative Assistant Heather Lopez said.
“I think we also need to talk to the grant recipients, and hear their thoughts,” Everett said. “It’s important that we be responsible and balanced in our decisions. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting heads in beds. If we don’t have people spending money in the county, then we’re going to lose.”
Council Member Mary Richmond said she did not think the TDC should give grants to any one-day events, since an overnight stay is not generally required for attendance.
However, Everett said that events that are currently budgeted for the remainder of this fiscal year should still be considered for grants.
After the grant discussion in the workshop, the TDC had two grant requests to consider in their March meeting, which immediately followed the workshop.
Vernon City Council was requesting $1,000 for the Vernon 4th of July Extravaganza and the city of Wausau was seeking $2,000 for the 3rd annual Wausau Possum Classic 3D Archery tournament.
The TDC members split 2-2 on supporting the grant request from Vernon, with Richmond and Sweeney voting against the request and members Everett and Dana Phillips voting for the request.
Council Member Gwen March, who also serves on the Vernon City Council, abstained from voting.
Pate, as chairman, broke the tie by voting in favor of the request, which had also been allocated in the TDC budget.
The Wausau event, however, was a new event and was not allocated in this year’s budget, and it was not approved by the TDC members.
The archery event was to be held at Everett’s Hard Labor Creek, so he abstained from voting, and Phillips, March and Richmond voted against funding the Wausau grant request, while Sweeney voted for it.
“I said it before, but I just can’t support one-day events,” Richmond said. “We’re too low on funds.”