Visitors services contract up for renewal
While some complain about all the visitors in Truckee, others, like Rachelle Pellissier, are trying to draw even more into the area.
“Tourism is the cornerstone of our economy,” she said. “The hotels are not close to being full during non-peak periods. We need to try and bring more visitors in during the week.”
Tourism’s bedrock status has spurred Pellissier, president of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, to request the Town Council increase the funding for the operation of the Visitor’s Center in the Depot and for promotional services provided by the Chamber.
The Chamber has staffed and overseen operations of the Visitor’s Center for the last three years and provided promotional services for the town since incorporation.
But that contract ended this past fiscal year, and the Chamber doesn’t want to cover what Pellissier said was a $40,000 shortfall in operating expenses for the Visitor’s Center last year.
“The TOT should pay for the Visitor’s Center completely,” said Pellissier, referring to the Town’s Transient Occupancy Tax, collected by lodging facilities on short term rentals (30 days or less). The tax in Truckee is currently 10 percent of the cost of a room.
Most of the funding for the Visitor’s Center and the Chamber’s promotional services comes from revenues generated by the tax.
Eighty percent of those revenues go toward mitigating the effects of tourism, such as increased need for road repairs and an additional police presence, with the remaining 20 percent split between the Visitor’s Center and promotional services.
Last year, the TOT generated approximately $970,000, resulting in close to $97,000 for promotional services and more than $108,000 for the Visitor’s Center. The Visitors Center also keeps half of the proceeds from its gift shop.
This year, the Chamber is asking the town to renew the contract for the operation of the Visitor’s Center and promotional services for another three years.
The Chamber has also requested the town increase the percentage of the TOT allocated for those services from 10 to 12 percent for the Visitor’s Center and from 10 to 13 percent for promotional services.
The Chamber’s proposed three year contract is part of the proposed 2001-2002 town budget. The 2001-2002 town budget is expected to be approved at tonight’s Town Council meeting.
“Some people say the Chamber should pay for (the shortfall) because Chamber members benefit,” Pellissier said. “But it’s not just the Chamber members, all of Truckee benefits What we are saying as a business community, is ‘We have got to market our business.'”
Details of this year’s budget show that while only $55,000 was budgeted for the Visitor’s Center in 2000-2001 fiscal year, more than $108,000 was actually spent.
Pellissier said that figure is misleading because it likely included capital improvements.
“I would assume that it included capital improvements. They fixed the bathroom at the Visitor’s Center and included that in last year’s budget.”
Pellissier said that the Chamber has studied “10 other mountain towns that rely primarily on tourism,” and found that most allocate “at least 25 percent of their TOT for visitor centers and promotion.”
“Towns striving to develop a successful tourist-based economy must create and foster an inviting atmosphere for their visitors,” Pellissier said.
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