B&B inns to get portion of lodging tax money

The Ashland bed and breakfast inns that help generate lodging tax money for the city will receive a share of that money back for marketing.

On Thursday night, the Citizens' Budget Committee agreed to award Ashland's Bed and Breakfast Network $5,000 in Economic and Cultural Development Grant money.

The grants are funded by the city's 8 percent lodging tax.

For the fiscal year that starts July 1, the budget committee had a projected $125,410 to divide among nonprofit organizations. However, the groups submitted $320,690 in grant requests.

For its part, Ashland's Bed and Breakfast Network asked for $25,000 to promote the town and stays in bed and breakfast inns during the fall, winter and spring &

traditionally slow times for tourism.

Deedie Runkel, co-owner of Anne Hathaway's Bed and Breakfast, said she was delighted that the budget committee awarded the network $5,000.

Last year, the network was excluded from applying for money because it was not a nonprofit. The network secured nonprofit status so that it could apply for the grant funds this time.

Runkel said visitors who stay at bed and breakfast inns often develop a tradition of returning to a specific inn and Ashland.

"They tell their friends. A lot of our guests return the next year and bring two sets of friends," she said.

Not everyone on the budget committee, which is made up of Ashland City Council and resident members, was happy about giving money to the bed and breakfast network.

Councilor Eric Navickas said the city already gives money to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce to market the entire community, including bed and breakfast inns. He said the network was competing for limited funding against other deserving nonprofit groups.

The chamber will receive $87,890 to promote tourism and $174,832 for economic development from the tax receipts. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will receive $120,201 to promote tourism.

Councilor Cate Hartzell worried that hotels and motels will band together as a nonprofit group and ask for a share of the money next year.

But resident budget committee member Allen Douma said it makes sense to give money to the bed and breakfast inns to market themselves.

"If they increase the number of people coming to their home-grown businesses, we will increase tax revenues," he said.

Councilor Russ Silbiger noted that sharing tax receipts with the network might help the local lodging industry support a proposed city lodging tax increase of — to 2 percent.

At a Tuesday meeting, the City Council will discuss finance department projections about how much money such a tax increase would generate. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

During the Thursday night meeting, the Ashland Independent Film Festival was the big winner, receiving an allocation of $19,566 from the budget committee.

"We really need to support them as one of the major economic powerhouses of our shoulder season," Navickas said.

The seventh annual film festival wrapped up Monday night after five days of films. Approximately 7,000 people attended and 101 of 130 films and events were sold out, according to the organization's Web site.

The budget committee awarded $16,567 to the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.

"It draws people to Ashland as a family experience," Hartzell said.

THRIVE, which supports local and sustainable food production, will receive $15,567.

The Ashland Gallery Association, which coordinates First Friday Art Walks each month and A Taste of Ashland gallery, food and wine tour every spring, will receive $11,000.

Councilor Russ Silbiger said those events draw people to Ashland who walk around the downtown and visit a variety of businesses.

The budget committee awarded smaller grants to more than a dozen other nonprofit groups, but gave no money to Nuwandart gallery, Ashland Artisan Gallery, Peace House or the Ashland Public Arts Commission. The Public Arts Commission had sought $5,000 for a tile art project at Bellview Elementary School. Some budget committee members were concerned about giving money to a city commission. The commission also would need to win a conditional use permit before it could carry out the tile project.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. Post a comment at

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