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Marble Falls deals out HOT funds to events, organizations

The Marble Falls Hotel Motel Occupancy Tax Advisory Committee recommended awarding $35,000 to Music on Main to help cover costs for the 115-day concert series at Old Oak Square. Courtesy photo

Music on Main received the biggest share of the most recent collection of Marble Falls’ hotel occupancy tax money, which was divvied up among seven organizations by the city’s Hotel Motel Occupancy Tax Advisory Committee on Wednesday, June 12. 

The committee recommended giving the 115-day music series $35,000 of the around $85,000 on the table. 

“I love this event,” said Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. and a member of the committee.

The money will go toward paying musicians and marketing costs associated with the free concert series.

“With y’all’s support, we’re able to hire better music, we’re able to advertise more,” said Music on Main organizer Mitch McManus. “We’re in a growth mode.”

The advisory committee meets about twice a year to recommend funding amounts to the Marble Falls City Council for local organizations and events that promote tourism in the city. Its coffers are funded by a 7 percent hotel occupancy tax on hotels, motels, inns, and bed-and-breakfast establishments in the city limits.

Committee members recommended another $25,000 for Highland Lakes Creative Arts. The nonprofit organizes several events and programs, including Paint the Town, Sculpture in the Square, and Sculpture on Main.

During a discussion of this item, Marble Falls Hotel Motel Association representative Jamie Lynn Smith noted that Paint the Town has had little impact on drawing out-of-town visitors to the city’s hotels. Most out-of-town artists stay with locals free of charge during the weeklong event.

“I know the past two years, with Paint the Town specifically, I haven’t seen a significant increase in revenue,” said Smith, a committee member who runs Hidden Falls Inn on Lake Marble Falls.

Committee member and Mayor Pro-tem Craig Magerkurth argued that the nonprofit’s other programs, specifically Sculpture on Main, have a year-round impact on Marble Falls tourism.

“It’s something that can be viewed 365 days a year,” he said.

One funding request that turned contentious was Texas BASS Nation’s application to host its annual Bassmaster Open Team Trail State Championship on Lake LBJ at McNair Park, 211 Park Road in Sunrise Beach Village.

“We’re asking for help to put on a team state championship on Lake LBJ,” said TBN Director Brett Stafford.

Fletcher said the request felt more like a “bidding war” to host the tournament than a funding request. The fishing association is reaching out to other cities before making a final decision on the location of its September tournament.

“I love fishing, and it adds diversity to what we’re trying to do here, but it feels like a bid,” Fletcher said.

Committee member Darleen Oostemeyer shared his concern.

“Without having logistics in place, I’m a little uncomfortable with it,  she said. 

In the end, the committee decided to offer $2,500 in funding to the tournament. Organizers will only receive the money if they move forward with hosting the event on Lake LBJ.

“I would encourage you to pursue funds from Burnet and Llano counties as well,” Metzgar told TBN’s Stafford.

Committee members also recommended $10,000 for FiestaJam, a nonprofit that hosts concerts and seminars each year to boost youth music education. 

Organizers unveiled plans to split the event, typically held in October, into two parts.

“We’re going to do a smaller event in October and a large event in the spring,” organizer Richard Westerman said. “We’re having conversations with some major promotional companies to take this to a whole new level.”

Other organizations receiving funding were the Highland Arts Guild and Gallery, The Falls on the Colorado Museum, and the Highland Lakes Chili Pod.

Below is a list of all funding amounts granted by the committee:

  • $35,000, Music on Main
  • $25,000, Highland Lakes Creative Arts
  • $10,000, FiestaJam
  • $5,000, Highland Arts Guild
  • $5,000, Falls on the Colorado Museum
  • $2,500, Texas BASS Nation
  • $1,500, Highland Lakes Chili Pod

The Hotel Motel Occupancy Tax Advisory Committee includes Marble Falls City Manager Mike Hodge, Marble Falls Hotel Motel Association representative Jamie Lynn Smith, Mayor Pro-tem Craig Magerkurth, Marble Falls/Highland Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Director Jarrod Metzgar, Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Christian Fletcher, and residents Ross Johnson and Darlene Oostermeyer.

nathan@thepicayune.com