Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Daniel Thompson

County Clarifies Cost Of New Tourism Director


There was still some concern at the County Commissioners meeting January 3 over where the money for the Visitors Committee budget and means to pay the salary of the new Tourism Director comes from--existing funds or taxes levied on local residents.

According to Carinda McConnell, the Visitor’s Committee budget to pay the new Tourism Director, Jo Caskey, comes primarily from lodging tax which Kimball County collects as a result of the Nebraska Visitors Development Act, which became law in 1980.

“There is some confusion, and people think that it is tax dollars. It is not. The majority of it will come from lodging tax which is not taxes that tax payers pay. The benefits also all come out of lodging tax,” McConnell said.

Lodging tax is generated from visitors who utilize sleeping accommodations at hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfast establishments, and similar facilities, according to a statement released by the Kimball County Visitors Committee.

Lodging tax revenues must also be used to attract visitors to the county thereby helping travel and tourism locally.

The remaining amount of the money to assist in the hiring of a Director and maintaining the operational budget comes from the city through the Economic Development fund and the county, according to Economic Development Director Larissa Binod.

“$12,000 dollars is coming from the Economic Development Loan funds. It’s a grant to the Visitor’s Committee for this year, $1,000 a month, and that’s specifically for funding the Tourism Director position with the Visitors Committee. $6,000 is coming from the county and general tax funds per year. That’s $500 a month. That would be the tax funds that the county at large is committing to invest in the tourism industry,” Binod said.

The reason for the use of the general tax funds stems from the county commissioners’ approval of a request by the Visitors Committee earlier in the year.

“We asked that the county match the city’s participation. Through Economic Development we committed to $12,000 a year so $1,000 a month. We wanted to commit to that for five years, but we asked that the county match that too.

This is a county-wide program. It’s a county committee appointed by the county commissioners. This is developing a county, regional tourism opportunity,” Binod continued.

The Kimball County Visitors Committee acts as an advisory board to the Kimball County Board of Commissioners in administering the Kimball County Visitors’ Promotion and Improvement Funds.

All meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to attend the second Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at the Kimball-Banner County Chamber of Commerce Office.


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