Losing more than $11,000 in hotel-motel tax dollars could jeopardize future tourism opportunities in Keizer, Keizer Chamber of Commerce leaders warned at a city budget committee meeting Thursday night.
The city of Keizer typically has kept about 60 percent of the tax collected from hotel guests – estimated at $59,400 this year – allocating 20 percent each to the chamber and Keizer Fire District. The chamber manages the Keizer Area Visitors Center.
A contingent of Chamber backers, including its president and executive director, urged the budget committee to reconsider the city manager’s recommendation that the city keep all the funds this year to balance its budget.
State law mandates the monies be used to promote tourism, but city officials believe they’re in the legal right keeping the money, in part because community center rentals bring more guests into town, the city manager said Tuesday.
“Statistically if you take away a marketing budget from any entity it will collapse,” said Rick Day, a chamber board member.
“The chamber takes this duty very seriously,” said Rich Duncan, the chamber’s president. “… The chamber believes strongly the visitor and tourism services they provide is a win-win and has a proven record of success.”
Duncan predicted revenues from hotel-motel tax could fall beyond what city leaders propose keeping.
Derik Milton, who sits on the chamber’s finance committee and board of directors, asked committee members to “look at the dollar ratios.”
JoAnne Beilke, a finance committee member and former Keizer Chamber tourism director, said the chamber fulfills the “service of answering all the calls that come in around the nation, and the emails that come in … about coming to Keizer, you know?”
Hotel-motel tax collections is projected to decline for the fourth straight year. Revenues fell from $79,710 in 2007-08 (ending June 30, 2008) to a projected $59,400 in 2010-11, and city finance officials project $57,700 in 2011-12.
It does, however, seem the decline is slowing. If the 2010-11 projection holds up, the decline of $1,790 (3 percent) between 2009-10 and 2010-11 is dramatically smaller than the prior two years’ decline. Revenues fell $10,793 (14 percent) between 2007-08 and 2008-09 and $7,727 (11 percent) between 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The Lady Celts’ varsity softball team had a shot at tying for first place in the league with an away win over South Salem High School Thursday, past press time.
“We’ll face teams just as good or better than South Salem. If we can’t get it with South it’s only going to get harder, but we can change that around with one nice performance,” said Jeff Auvinen, McNary head coach.
Only one Celtic run has crossed the plate in McNary’s two previous meetings with the team, while the Saxons racked up 23 in 11 innings.
“We play great defense against them, we just need to string hits together and we’ll do well,” said Celt Dani Saunders.
“We just need to relax and know we can beat them. They’re not totally amazing, we need to make sure we’re not making any mental or physical errors,” added Keri Bonn.
McNary’s schedule last week kicked off with their second loss to the Saxon team, 13-1.
“We got off to a good start pitching wise and they scraped out a run, but we didn’t do a heck of a lot offensively. They got a couple of runners on and had an eight-run fifth to make it 9-0 and we came back and got one,” Auvinen said.
The Celts bounced back to win a contest with Sprague High School, 7-0. Pitcher Jordyn Hanson threw 47 pitches for a three-hit shutout with one strike out.
“They decided to go ahead with their plan to walk Hailey [Decker] a bunch of times and she made them pay by scoring a few runs,” Auvinen said.
A follow-up game with McKay ended in a lopsided 23-0 victory for the Celts in five innings. The Celts were helped to the win by 18 walks and six hit batters by Royal Scot pitchers, McNary scored its nearly two dozen runs on 10 hits.
Hanson threw her second three-hit shutout of the week and went 3 for 5 with a double and four RBIs. Paige Bouska and Saunders also hit doubles in the game.
In general, Bonn was pleased with the week’s progress.
“I think we were doing well defensively, but we had lots of good plays in the infield and outfield. Lots of good hits and bunts,” she said.
With their prospects looking good for the postseason, Saunders said the team will likely rely on its defensive efforts.
“We’re really good at getting outs and getting them right away,” she said.