Brownwood council OKs new Hotel Occupancy Tax funds agreement
Brownwood City Council members authorized Mayor Stephen Haynes to sign a new Hotel Occupancy Tax service agreement with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce during the City Council Meeting held on Tuesday, March 23.
The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce has been the primary management organization for tourism HOT funds since 2006 when the City of Brownwood contracted with the Chamber for those services. With the development of the new multi-purpose Event Center, tourism in Brownwood is expected to expand through conventions and larger-scale concerts and events.
“This is the next step as we prepare for the influx of new visitors our city will welcome with the addition of the new Event Center,” Haynes said. “We are proud to continue to partner with the Chamber of Commerce as we work together to grow tourism in Brownwood.”
To properly staff the event center and increase marketing and recruiting, the City of Brownwood recognized the need to retain additional HOT funds.
“Our goal is to staff, operate, and promote the new Event Center without growing the city budget,” said City Manager Emily Crawford. “The existing city budget for Community Facilities combined with the HOT funds allows us to do that.”
Under the newly adopted service agreement, the Chamber will continue to provide Visitor Information support services for walk-ins and callers. The Chamber will also maintain the highway banner program, which they established several years ago. Additionally, the Chamber will complete a Wayfinding signage project within a year.
The city will make available at least $50,000 for the Chamber to host new or expanded tourism events that will have a positive economic impact on the community, and will waive rental fees for up to three events per year in the new Event Center.
“With this new agreement in place and opportunity to raise funds, the Chamber of Commerce is in a great position to provide for our members, to expand services, and increase fundraising efforts,” said Cory Howard, chamber of commerce president.
The city will manage all tourism marketing and advertising and the Visitor Center. Over the next six months, the city will transition the Visitor Center to the Lehnis Railroad Museum. The museum has weekend hours and existing staff who can serve visitors.
The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approved the agreement March 22. The new agreement will take effect April 1 for a term of 18 months.