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Organizations vie for hotel/motel tax dollars

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

During a brief meeting of the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday, several groups stepped forward to ask for a share of the city’s collected hotel/motel tax money for 2010.

As in prior years, the organizations that help to fill rooms in local hotels approached the council to ask for their share of the payout from taxes c

ollected from that use.

Historically, the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce has received the lion’s share of those funds, last year 59 percent. Chamber president Wayne Bock requested the council continue to offer the same level of support, which is an amount up to $42,000.

The Greater Caldwell County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been recognized in past years as the number-two draw, earning around 19 percent of the hotel/motel tax distribution. Like Bock, GCCHCOC president Rebecca Juarez asked the city to offer 19 percent of the funds this year, or an amount near $15,000.

Under current rules governing hotel/motel tax funds, the City of Lockhart is entitled to offer up to 15 percent of the tax collected to support the arts. For a period of time, that percentage was split between Lockhart’s then two community theatre groups. However, with the recent merger and creation of the Gaslight-Baker Theatre, the funds have been offered solely to that group. Gaslight-Baker board president David Schneider said the organization would welcome a continuing contribution of 15 percent to support advertising, publicity and restoration efforts for the Baker Theater.

The Caldwell County Museum is also supported in part by the funds, to the tune of around $2,700 last year, which is five percent of the collected tax. Stephanie Schunick requested the level of funding remain the same.

Although the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches was invited to make a presentation to ask for the funds, a representative of that organization did not attend the meeting, prompting Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram to make a strong statement to the rest of the council suggesting the funds previously allocated to the clock museum be reassigned.

No decision was made about the allocation of the funding during Tuesday’s meeting. The council will make a determination and announcement about the distribution during a meeting later this year.

In other news, the council discussed the possibility of allowing the Maxwell Volunteer Fire Department to include parts of the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in their current plans to form an Emergency Service District, which will allow the department to collect some taxes to fund fire and rescue operations in rural areas of the county.

Despite some concerns that the city might be responsible, in the future, for repayment of a portion of funds used in support of the ESD if the city annexes more property in the future, the council opted to approve the measure and support the department in their plans to pursue an ESD formation.

In brief news:
The council updated the city’s ordinances governing cinematic filming and photography within the city limits.

According to Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin, the changes will bring the city’s ordinances more in line with the ordinances of neighboring communities, and make the city more attractive to production companies scouting for locations in Central Texas.

They discussed and ultimately passed, by a narrow vote, changes to rules governing the intentional dumping of lawn trash, including leave and grass clippings, in city streets and gutters. Councilmembers Lew White and Kenny Roland opposed the measure, suggesting the wording of the ordinance is overbroad and may allow future councils and law enforcement officials to abuse the rules. Councilmembers Dick Wieland and Richard Banks were not present for the discussion or the vote, and Roland suggested the measure be tabled until their input could be sought. His notion was defeated with a 3-2 vote in favor of the ordinance.

The panel approved the sale of property in the Lockhart Industrial Park to the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation in support of the planned relocation of AdviTech to Lockhart.

Bertram announced he has chosen to seek another elected position, and said his choice will trigger a special election to fill his unexpired term as mayor. Although he will continue to serve until a new mayor is chosen, state election rules give the state 120 days from the date of his filing (Monday, Jan. 4, 2010), to hold a special election to fill his position. The date of the election will be announced as details develop.

The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.

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