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City seeks ways to spend tourism funds

The city of Sunnyside annually anticipates $60,000 in hotel/motel tax funds that are used to attract tourists to the city.

This year the city will have more flexibility in how the funds are spent thanks to state legislation passed earlier this year.

Previously, the funds had to be spent on advertising and promotional materials to promote the city and its activities.

Now, the legislature has loosened its grip some on those funds, allowing Sunnyside and other cities to use the money for tourism-related costs such as putting on a festival, such as Sunshine Days, or to maintain a city-owned facility, such as the Sunnyside Museum.

Between now and Wednesday, Sept. 5, Sunnyside is accepting written proposals for the use of the lodging tax dollars.

City Manager Bob Stockwell said a citizens panel will convene Sept. 20 to consider the proposals, then forward recommendations on to the city council for consideration in November during the city's budget making process for 2008.

Stockwell said there is approximately $100,000 in hotel/motel tax reserves, in addition to the $60,000 in annual revenues, that could be applied to a large, one-time project.

It would take a special project, though, to consider using the reserve funds.

"If we see something that comes up that makes sense we might consider it," Stockwell said of spending the hotel/motel tax reserves. "Once you spend it, it's gone," he cautioned.

Stockwell said any group, profit or non-profit, is welcome to submit a proposal for spending the tourism dollars.

Applications are available at Sunnyside City Hall, 818 E. Edison Ave. An electronic application is also online at www.ci.sunnyside.wa.us under "public documents". Completed applications must be submitted to city hall by no later than 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 5.

Though the process is open to any group, and open for more uses, there is still a bottom line to consider before the city awards the funds.

"It has to be related to things that attract people to stay in Sunnyside," Stockwell said.

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