Valleyfest received $19,000 in City funds during the “outside agency” call for proposals. On Nov. 29, the City Council decided not to grant Valleyfest’s request for $40,000-$50,000 from lodging tax funds.
This decision was based upon three totally false assumptions:
(a) approval should be based on “heads in beds”,
(b) Valleyfest is a local event and does not attract tourists, and
(c) Valleyfest left a part of their application blank.
“heads in beds”:
I understand why the hotels are greatly concerned about how many “heads in beds” they have, especially since the fund is a room tax on their clients. However, Washington Law states these funds are to be used for “tourist promotion.” Tourists are defined as someone from another town. The Committee Chair reported that “the application did not reflect a return, or heads in beds.” The Chair was wrong. “Does it draw tourists?” should have been the criterion used.
Valleyfest a Local Event:
The Committee chair reported, “[the committee] did not feel that that was a good use of the dollars because it is a local community event.” The facts show otherwise. In the Valleyfest Director’s report filed with the City in early 2011 for the 2010 Valleyfest, the she stated that 40,000 were in attendance, 65% were tourists, and 31% traveled more than 50 miles to attend the event. In her report for the 2011 Valleyfest interviews by Gonzaga University’s marketing department showed an attendance of 45,000, 48% of whom were tourists and 42% of the total traveled over 50 miles. The Committee was wrong.
Valleyfest and the Blank Page:
Before the Nov. 29 meeting, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor approached the Valleyfest Director and criticized her for leaving a blank page in her application. Council members saw the blank page and felt she should have filled it out. We were wrong. That blank page is the accountability page that is to be filled out AFTER the event (in 2012). In fact, none of the applicants filled out that page. Council was WRONG (and I include myself).
What should Council Do?
If Council makes a wrong decision based upon false information, it needs to own up to it and redo the action as soon as possible. The more we delay doing what is right, the more Valleyfest is hurt getting sponsors, the lower the marketing budget, and the fewer tourists Valleyfest attracts. With an economic impact of over $10 million, Council needs to reverse this public relations nightmare.