Convention bureau eyes 8 percent budget increase

The Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau board voted unanimously Tuesday to propose a 2014 budget roughly 8 percent greater than 2013. In doing so, it exceeded the limit placed on other city departments by Grand Junction City Council.

The board recommended City Council approve $1,127,371 for the convention bureau next year, including $443,375 to market the Grand Junction area across the Rocky Mountain region and $170,000 to upgrade the convention bureau’s Internet presence.

“This is a very aggressive budget,” convention bureau Executive Director Debbie Kovalik told the board after several members urged an even bigger increase.

City Council, however, told city departments to submit budgets with no increase, Internal Services Manager Jay Valentine said.

The difference between the board’s recommendation and the council directive boils down to contrasting revenue projections.

Most city departments are funded through sales and use taxes.

The visitor and convention bureau gets most of its money from lodging tax, an additional 3 percent levy on amounts paid by visitors who stay overnight at area hotels and motels.

“The dollars that are spent out of that (lodging tax) fund are only for that specific purpose, which is promoting tourism and conventions. So it’s not really the same as our general fund revenues, which have to go to fund police, fire, streets, and parks,” Valentine said.

The convention bureau projects the city will collect about 8 percent more lodging tax in 2014 than it did in 2013. City council projects it will collect less than 2 percent more in sales and use tax next year, Kovalik said.

Members of the convention bureau board expressed confidence in the lodging tax projection because, unlike other departments, the convention bureau spends its budget to generate even more tax money for the city.

According to Miles Media, a convention bureau consultant, every dollar the convention bureau spends on destination marketing returns $141 to the city.

The $141 return on investment comes from taxes on spending by tourists who visit hotels and motels, restaurants, entertainment venues, recreation centers and retail outlets — tourists who decide to vacation in Grand Junction because of marketing conducted by the convention bureau, Miles Media said.


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