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How Hotel Occupancy Tax pays for Denton’s culture

How Hotel Occupancy Tax pays for Denton’s culture

Locals gather around a booth at the local farmers market in downtown Denton. Kaitlyn St. Clair

How Hotel Occupancy Tax pays for Denton’s culture
April 26
15:50 2017

With the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival opening at the end of April, tourists and residents from all over the area are expected to fill Denton’s streets.

The festival, which generates almost $5 million, runs on a budget of $545,000. Close to 20 percent of that budget, though, is provided by the city in the form of HOT funds.

Hotel Occupancy Tax, or HOT funds, are funds that the city gives to local events and attractions every year. Those funds are then used by the event, and in return that event helps boost the City of Denton.

“If you want to make it as generic as possible, it’s the tourism industry,” Randee Klingele, the treasury services specialist for the City of Denton said.

HOT funds are broken down in eight separate categories: convention and visitor’s information centers (VICC), conventions, advertising, arts, historical, sporting events, sports facility and fields and transportation.

Klingele said Denton was an “event and historical destination” city.

“All these events roll up, and help us promote our tourism,” Klingele said.

In the 2016-2017 year, almost 30 local events received HOT funds, receiving amounts that ranged anywhere from $5,000 to $1 million, totaling just over $2 million.

The Denton Festival Foundation, the producer of the Arts and Jazz Festival, received $100,000 this year. The Denton Community Market received $15,500.

“We’re a free event,” Carol Short, founder and director of the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival said. “There’s not too many events in Denton anymore that are free…we’re very appreciative of what they give us. Very much so.”

The Process

HOT funds are projected every year during the City’s budget process.

To receive HOT funds, someone running an attraction must fill out an application, where they may be asked to explain aspects of the attraction, such as how it will help tourism, what they will do to bring people here. They must also have a proven history of success with the attraction.

That application then goes through a sub-committee, ran by three council members. Those council members then make a recommendation to the entire council, where it is then voted on.

“We usually don’t get all the funds we request,” Vicki Oppenheim, the president of the Denton Community Market said. “But we got more than last year…this year we got about half of what we requested.”

What are the funds used for?

As mentioned earlier, these funds are broken down into separate categories. The most relevant categories in Denton are convention, VICC, arts, advertising and historical. Both the Community Market and jazz festival qualify for arts and advertising.

Short said they use their funds to pay the performers every year, as well as any advertising, was done.

Vicki Oppenheim, the president of the Denton Community Market, said they spend their funds on similar things, namely to help cover the cost of performers, as well as advertising done outside of Denton.

“HOT Funds are supposed to be geared towards getting tourists,” Oppenheim said. “We use it for regional advertising and arts.”

The budget for the Community Market is around $90,000, but Oppenheim said that the market runs a deficit every year.

“We work with what we have,” Oppenheim said. “We definitely need the money. There’s no doubt about that.”

Featured Image: Locals gather around a booth at the local farmers market in downtown Denton. Kaitlyn St. Clair

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James Norman

James Norman

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