Lincoln City’s long and winding road that leads to a way of awarding up to $75,000 annually to worthy non-profits.
Amid claims that city hall was doling out thousands of dollars in room tax money to local non-profits without proper review, the Lincoln City City Council labored Monday night until they felt they got it right. The council helped developed a system of doling out those funds that should hold up under future scrutiny.
Lincoln City area resident Jim Hoover, a frequent critic of what he calls “city shortcomings,” recently complained that the Visitors and Convention Bureau was awarding city grants to groups putting on local entertainment and cultural events without adequate oversight. Hoover claimed that rules surrounding the grant awards were not being followed in a consistent way. So the council had the VCB’s Sandy Pfaff appear before them, armed with an updated of procedures and protocols that should meet a more stringent test of fairness and clairty as the VCB grant review committee examines applications submitted by local groups who are vying for a part of the city’s annual $75,000 pot to put on tourism related events.
Pfaff and a member of her VCB committee outlined a series of new review criteria, most of which seemed to please the council. Pfaff promised to use clear and objective criteria by which to measure the value and return-on-investment for the city in terms of tourist draw and the number of hotel/motel room nights, restaurant use and other indicators of “visitor benefits” to the town. Mayor Dick Anderson said he also wants to see the way the committee scores local applicants; who are the winners, who are the losers and how they wound up that way. A suggestion that successful applicants be awarded 90% of their grant up-front, and the final 10% awarded only after they turn in all their paperwork, didn’t fly. Pfaff initially disagreed, saying there are many good local groups that don’t have half the costs up front for their events, so a 90% advance would get them up and running. But councilors said the current 50% now and 50% when the event is complete, is the way they want to go. Others called for funding groups that have shown success and grown their events to where they don’t need any more “seed money.” However, Pfaff said some events and their organizers require a little something every year since they don’t always break even, even though their events are popular and are well attended.
City Manager David Hawker said these and other comments gleaned from the councilors will be added to the record and be held over for another council review next month.