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Llano County approves JLK center funding; trade deal almost complete

Llano County Commissioners Court meeting Nov. 14, 2022

Llano County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss (left) advocates for funding from the Commissioners Court for the operation of the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena. The court awarded the money in a 3-2 vote. Commissioner Linda Raschke (center) was against and Judge Ron Cunningham (right) was in favor. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Commissioners Court approved $150,000 of hotel occupancy tax funds for the operation of the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena. The approval, which came during the court’s regular meeting Monday, Nov. 14, solidifies a trade deal between the county and the city of Llano for the center, which is currently owned by the city.

A divided Commissioners Court approved the funding by a 3-2 vote. County Judge Ron Cunningham and commissioners Jerry Don Moss and Peter Jones voted in favor, while commissioners Linda Raschke and Mike Sandoval opposed the allocation. The money was part of a total of $785,039.04 in HOT funds considered for allocation among 32 applicants. 

The trade deal between the county and city was made on the condition that funding for the operation of the event center could be acquired during the Nov. 14 meeting, which was held to distribute the HOT funds

Precinct 4 Commissioner Moss negotiated the trade deal and requested the HOT funds for the operation of the event center. He originally sought $290,000 but changed the estimate to $190,000, dropping it again by the time of the meeting to $150,000. He also left the item for the end so the court could first consider other applications. By the time the court heard Moss’ request for $150,000, available funds amounted to $296,129.04. The remaining $146,129.04 will most likely roll over into next year’s funding pool.

According to Precinct 4 Commissioner Moss, the trade will be complete by January or February of 2023. The event center and the city of Llano are in his precinct.

“We’re not using all of the HOT funds and this is not a permanent solution,” Moss told 

He told the court that the event center would not need HOT funds indefinitely. It will eventually have to become a county-budgeted item, he said.

HOT funds are the taxes collected from lodgers such as hotels and motels that must be allocated to efforts that promote tourism. Commissioners Raschke and Sandoval opposed the trade because they said it was inappropriate to use county HOT funds to operate a facility that would disproportionately benefit the city of Llano.

The county will receive the event center, which has an estimated value of $2.7 million, according to the Llano Central Appraisal District, in exchange for county-owned property with an estimated value of $393,158.

The city of Llano first proposed a trade with the county in July, citing concerns over center operational deficits it believed the county would be better equipped to handle.