Loss of Holiday Shores hotel/motel tax revenue puts city, chamber in a bind

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The closure of the Holiday Shores Motel in McGregor last month puts the city of McGregor, and thus the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce, in a funding bind. 

According to city administrator Lynette Sander, who spoke to the council at its regular meeting July 15, the motel annually contributed an estimated $15,400 in hotel/motel tax revenue. The city pulls in around $30,000 in hotel/motel tax annually, two-thirds of which goes to the chamber. In budget year 2014-2015, the chamber received $20,629 in funding via the tax. Based on projections for 2015-2016, if the same funding model is used, the chamber would see a roughly $10,000 shortfall.

Sander said the city has several options to use other funds in order to help make up the difference, one of which is to contribute all of the hotel/motel tax funds to the chamber. Another option would be to use some local option sales tax funds that are earmarked for other economic development purposes. 

“But if we use it for the chamber, then it’s not being used for other things,” said councilwoman Rogeta Halvorson, who expressed displeasure with the developers who purchased the Holiday Shores property for not consulting with the city and chamber before the motel’s closure. “I’m livid that we’re put in this situation. It could really devastate McGregor.”

Terry Kerns, who is with Trilogy Partners, LLC, which purchased the property, attended the meeting, stating that no official plans have been developed for the site yet.

“We’re working hard to find something that works for everybody,” he said. “We’re looking at a lot of different plans. We’re excited to bring something new to the city.”

Sander said the city and chamber should work to come up with a solution to the funding issues before the chamber’s next quarterly payment is due in early October.

“It’s a couple of months away, but we need to start planning,” she said.

McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carolyn Gallagher was also in attendance and said she would meet with her board to develop a time to meet jointly with the city.

“You’ll need to get creative,” Halvorson told Gallagher. “You’ll have to come up with more revenue and cut some expenses.”

Tree City designation

Sander said the city is looking into receiving Tree City designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. In order to become a Tree City, McGregor would have to develop a tree board and a community tree ordinance, which would authorize the board to implement yearly forestry plans for planting, maintaining and removing city trees. In addition, funds would have to be allocated annually toward tree maintenance. Sander said McGregor already has a tree management budget that serves that purpose. Finally, the city would have to observe Arbor Day each year and issue a proclamation.

Before further pursuing Tree City status, mayor Harold Brooks said he would like the city to first establish a tree board, to see if there is sufficient interest among community members to volunteer on the board. If you are interested, please contact city hall.

Turner Park

Turner Park Committee member and councilwoman Janet Hallberg updated the council on Turner Park improvements. She said several fundraisers are planned for the coming weeks, including a 5K walk/run and hog roast on Friday, July 31, beginning at 6 p.m. A family fun day carnival is also scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 16.

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