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County awards $481,000 in lodging taxes to 11 tourism projects

(Photo by Visit Chelan County)

 

Chelan County commissioners awarded $481,000 in lodging tax dollars to a variety of capital projects that focus on generating more overnight visits from tourists.

The money was allocated to eight agencies:

Lake Chelan Nordic Club: Snow grooming equipment, $110,000

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club: Snow grooming equipment, $100,000

Wenatchee Valley TREAD: Trails project, $92,000

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance: No. 2 Canyon recreation area, $84,000

Plain Valley Ski Trails: Welcome center project phase 2, $50,000

Chelan-Douglas Land Trust: Jacobsen Preserve trailhead, $30,000

Chelan County Natural Resources: Parks and Recreation Plan, $10,000

Upper Valley Historical Society: Expansion feasibility study, $5,000

The Chelan County Lodging Tax Committee (LTAC), which reviews grant applications and then makes a recommendation to the board, was only able to allocate $330,000 for the capital awards instead of the $420,000 it had originally budgeted. Commissioners agreed to use $151,000 from lodging tax reserves to fund the 2025 grant awards, as recommended by LTAC.

“Applications this year included a number of larger capital projects that aligned with our strategic plan, helping contribute to tourism growth in the future,” said Commissioner Tiffany Gering, who chairs LTAC. “Over the years, we have been able to build up a healthy reserve for situations like this.”

However, in the future, capital grants, typically considered annually by LTAC, will be moved to a bi-annual cycle, with the next call for applications coming Feb. 1, 2026, Gering added.

“Unfortunately, the last two years, we have seen a decrease in lodging tax funds generated in the unincorporated areas of Chelan County,” she said. “We want to be able to fund some of these larger capital projects in the future, so we are going to build up that pot of money and move capital applications to every other year.”

Chelan County has two types of grants supported by lodging tax dollars, which are generated by stays at motels, hotels and short-term rentals. Along with capital projects, applications are taken annually for events and marketing grants. Those grants will remain on an annual cycle, with the call for applications this year beginning Sept. 1 and due on Oct. 15.

Chelan County’s Economic Services department will lead a study to determine not only the overall impacts of tourism on the local economy but also why these tax dollars are decreasing in the unincorporated areas of Chelan County, Gering said. Economic Services is expected to begin the search later this year for a consultant on the project.

Last Updated: 05/02/2024 02:37 PM

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