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Dam breaks for Electric City lodging tax funds


Last updated 10/9/2019 at 3:58pm

The Electric City Council Tuesday voted to spend $338,550 of funds collected for improving tourism, most of it on a city park, departing from years of what some saw as an overly stingy practice.

The new Ice Age Park, for which city officials turned ceremonial shovels of dirt at a ground-breaking event last week, will include features such as a mammoth head in the playground, a fossil digging area, and more, designed to cater to local kids and tourists alike.

Including the park, the city will spend 85 percent of the funds on its own tourism initiatives, but also will dispense funds to several other local organizations that applied for the funding.

Those include:

• $20,000 to the Grand Coulee Area Chamber of Commerce

• $7,000 to the Coulee Area Parks & Recreation District for the operation and maintenance of the North Dam Park and Events Center

• $500 for the operations and maintenance of the Pioneer Museum

• $3,000 for the operations and maintenance of the Run the Dam event

• $20,000 for the operations and maintenance and advertisement of all Ridge Rider events. 

Those distributions come with the stipulation that advertisements must mention Electric City lodging, through which the money is collected. 

Acting on a plan proposed by the council’s Lodging Tax Committee, including Councilmembers Aaron Derr and Rich McGuire, the council approved the distribution from lodging tax reserves of some $288,050 to the city itself, including $279,650 for the park, which is as a match to gain a grant from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office for $257,500 to fund the park development and maintenance.

The money to the city also includes $8,400 for “tourism promotion and advertisement of Electric City lodging and tourism related facilities and events,” according to the recommendation provided by the Lodging Tax Committee included in the agenda packet given to council members.

The council approved the plan unanimously.

The lodging tax funds have been building for decades after councils declined to spend the money that local business advocates insisted was intended to fuel tourism, thereby building more funds and local employment.

Jacob Wagner reported for this story.


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