The Leander Chamber of Commerce has established a new tourism subcommittee to oversee the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT Tax) funds it will oversee for the City of Leander in the near future.
The subcommittee membership primarily consists of Chamber Board or Exectuive Committee members, including Executive Committee Chair and Texas Pawn and Jewelry Andrea Farr, Hill Country Community Ministries Executive Director Tiesa Hollaway and former Cedar Park Council member Mitch Fuller. The committee membership also consists of Leander Public Information Officer Mike Neu and one still open seat.
"Our goal was to get someone from every sector...small business, nonprofit, city, tourism, and a representative of the community," said Bridget Brandt, President & CEO of the Leander Chamber of Commerce.
Leander will have its first hotel, the 84-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites - Leander, open this fall. As a result, the city will be able to collect HOT Tax for the first time. The specialized tax is limited by state law to narrow uses, particularly to promoting tourism in the city and the local convention and hotel industry.
The 5-year agreement between the city and the Chamber will allow the Chamber to utilize up to 75 percent of the city's HOT Tax for this purpose.
The agreement will go into effect Oct. 1 with two successive opportunities to extend the agreement by an additional 5-year term. Either party can give notice and subsequently leave the agreement at any time. In addition, the calculation for the portion the Chamber receives includes built-in adjustments that scales down how much the Chamber receives as the total amount collected with the tax grows or if the City chooses to redirect a percentage of the funds to other usages allowed under state law.
As part of the agreement, the Chamber will provide a comprehensive report every April on its plans for the funds and how it has used it in the prior year.
Brandt said the funds will not be used for the Chamber, so they had to setup a separate subcommittee to independently over see their usage. She said the city's agreement makes sense because the Chamber can utilize its experienced staff to help the subcommittee get started right away, instead of having the city use a significant portion of the limited funds to hire and pay for a new position to oversee it.
She said they hope to have the first plans on how to utilize the initial funds sometime before January, after their first budget is complete. She said she anticipates some of the first steps will involve being listed on statewide tourism publications and guides to draw people to the city.