Thank you for taking the time to email the Mayor and City Council members regarding questions to the funding process for the Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars. Our emails, calls, and general speaking out, did not go unnoticed. Kevin Johns, director of AICP, sent a letter out to the Austin Cultural Arts Contractors, apologizing for the poor handling of the revision. I won’t post the whole letter here, but I will do my best to sum it up.
Currently, the proposed new language in the application has been deleted. The Law Department will be consulting with additional legal experts on the interpretation of the code; and, there will be a stakeholder group including representatives of the arts, the Arts Commission and hotel industry representatives to assist in refining the process. Mr. Johns goes on to say that his attention was for 201o to be a test year, a year in which data could be gathered on which organizations were not reporting tourism, or reported zero tourism. In doing a close examination of this group the City could potentially be in the position to help. The prelude to the new application was never intended as a death sentence and everything is being done to insure that the Hotel Tax source of dollars is legally applied. When the language and understanding of the code is finally secured, and still certain groups fall outside the tourism dollar portfolio, the City is willing to develop a safety net and suggest appropriate funding.
Well, I think this is a great start! Definitely the way this revision should have been handled from the start. It is still yet to be determined which organizations will continue to receive funding, and which will not. However, it is clear that the the arts community will have a legitimate voice in this revision and will no longer be blind sided by any additional changes to this code.
Thanks again to everyone who spoke out. This whole process has shown me how committed our community is to preservation of the arts. It’s a wonderful thing. We will be posting more updates on this as it comes our way so keep reading!
Community Relations Assistant