It's more complicated than that, JB. Our tourism program generates income that supports marketing through voluntary cooperative ads purchased in the visitor's guide. Our stakeholders invest over $80,000 annually through us on coop advertising from their own budgets. We also earn matching grants by using Maryland OTD identities on approved ads (we pioneered adding internet advertising to this program). Certain grant-based Maryland Heritage Area grant funds are also administered through tourism on a competitive project application basis. These income sources are added to the county allocation to make the operating budget for the tourism department.
After the two cities pull their share of the hotel/motel revenue, the commissioners have then traditionally paid other expenses from the fund, including trail maintenance and security and various other subsidies to entities like WMSR and the Arts Council, these two totaling $180K in 2012. Through a bookkeeping choice that goes back the Jerry Frantz era, the county assigns all general fund expenditures above the collected hotel/motel tax to the tourism department, although they could just as easily choose any of the other tourism related line items as being pulled from the general fund.
In 2012, if I recall correctly, slightly less than $300K of the nearly million hotel/motel dollars collected was actually allocated to the tourism department. Despite growing the hotel/motel stream between 2002 and 2012 the tourism department team's budget is significantly smaller than in 2007 before the recession.
If tourism funding was based on growth of the tax stream to which we are held to specific mission responsibility our funding would be going up. It is not. The chiding we take as resource hogs from the sock puppets here falls into the category of insult after injury as we work our tails off to create increasing results from decreasing resources. We work a lot harder, care a lot more and accomplish more through innovation than many care to admit for a variety of reasons.
Very Well rehearsed what you and Jaybee got going here! Kudos!! Draw up a plan and execute it.
I'm guessing Dave and others may know what you mean there...
I'm putting Dave through a wrath of questioning to obtain information, and some opinion. These were created soley by me and represent my personal ideas and feelings of pertinance.
There's still questions. For instance, Dave hasn't has clearly laid out an implemental proposal for tourism funding - he's only laid out principles as far as I can see.
To me, gov't budgeting should be justified. Not based on soley on last year's spending, or arbitrary projections - or accounting gimmicks. I'm unsure that tourism has done this to what would suffice for me, however I am open to the thought that they could have a quantitatively proven case (and see indications that they may). I just want to see it - don't count your chickens before they hatch, so to speak.
Without converting leads/clicks and other tracking data into some kind of dollar figures for the area, the answers to my questions remain incomplete.