The city of Leavenworth may enact tourism grant program.

The city of Leavenworth may enact tourism grant program.

City Manager Paul Kramer and Assistant City Manager Taylour Tedder discussed the program Tuesday during a Leavenworth City Commission meeting.

Grants from the program could assist organizations with events or marketing. Funding for the proposed grant program would come from the city's transient guest tax revenue. The tax is paid by people who stay in hotels in the city.

Money from the city's transient guest tax already is used to fund the Leavenworth Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Commissioners took no action on the proposed grant program during Tuesday's study session. But Tedder said the issue will be brought back for a vote when commissioners meet next week.

Tedder said city officials are proposing to award tourism grants twice a year on Feb. 1 and Aug. 1.

"The maximum award amount would be $5,000," he said.

He said a grant could fund things such as promotional materials or event expenses.

Tedder said the grants would be reimbursements to organizations and not designed to cover all expenses.

He said an organization would be limited to one grant per each cycle, or two grants per year.

Preference would be given to marketing that is geared toward attracting overnight stays in the city.

"A grant completion report would be mandatory at the end," Tedder said.

City officials are recommending that $20,000 be allocated for the program each year.

Kramer said information about the proposed program has been shared with some museums in the community.

He said concern was expressed about questions on the application form concerning an increase in overnight stays and creating or sustaining tourism-related jobs.

Kramer said these things are not required in order for organizations to be eligible.

"Our goal is to get the money out to the community," he said.

Dick Gervasini, a board member of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, said the application is skewed toward having people stay overnight.

He said the Historical Society's largest fundraiser is a vintage homes tour. He said the event draws people from as far away as Nebraska.

"But it's a day trip for them," he said.

He noted that another representative of the Historical Society appeared before the commission earlier in the year looking for assistance with paying insurance.

He said insurance payments for the Historical Society do not fit the proposed grant program.

Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Bauder said the program may help with one area of the Historical Society's activities, freeing up money to help with insurance.

Bauder said she thinks the Historical Society's events would qualify if they are marketed outside of the Leavenworth.

"I don't think we could cover insurance," she said.

Commissioner Lisa Weakley agreed that the Historical Society may be able to shift expenses by receiving grants for events.

She said most events in the city right now are local attractions. But she hopes new hotels in the city will give visitors the option of staying in the city.

Kramer said there is an extensive list of types of projects that would be eligible for grant funding.

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