Tourism Committee doubles funding for Goats, Music & More

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Marshall County's Tourism Committee has voted to double its appropriation to the Goats, Music and More Festival, although festival officials had requested even more.

Festival officials "were asking for $5,000 and we authorized expenditure of $3,000," County Commissioner Larry McKnight said. Commissioner Richard Medley said the committee gave the festival $1,500 last year.

Tourism Committee funds are the revenue from Marshall County's hotel-motel tax on rented rooms. The committee's vote last week is documented in the county budget, County Accounts and Budget Director Freda Terry said.

The money is to help develop the local economy and Medley says the committee has seen results.

"There is an increase in sales tax revenue in October every year since the festival started," he said. "We would like to measure it to the weekend, but that would mean going to each business."

Organizations that want funding for their activities are now being asked to complete a form developed earlier this year.

"It gives us guidelines on what kind of organization and a snapshot on where other funds are coming from" for the organization requesting county assistance, McKnight said. "It has to be focused on tourism. It requires an overview of a market plan.

"We know a lot of organizations don't have a market plan, so we want to know their views and then the expected return to the county," he said. "We've had to turn some down because they did not meet the requirements of the committee.

An example arose on Tuesday night last week when the committee met. It was because of a request from amateur ball clubs.

The committee decided against funding regular season play between various ball clubs, Medley said.

"If they're going to have a tournament, then yes, we will fund it because people will be coming here," he said.

Also last week, the committee was visited by Faye Rodgers, area director of the Rural Development office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rodgers "answered questions about the $15,000 grant we got approved," Medley said.

The grant was sought in connection with a recently abandoned project in which the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce hired a consultant with money appropriated by the Tourism Committee.

Last year, tourism committeemen authorized spending $16,250 toward hiring a Kentucky firm; We Make Things Happen (WMTH). The county money was forwarded to the chamber which contracted with WMTH. Last winter, the committee had new members since the county election in August. Chamber officials have acknowledged the change.

"Since then, the chamber wanted to dissolve its contract with WMTH," Medley said.

As a result of the first phase of the WMTH project, the leadership of Marshall County has received an Internet website and brochures to help attract visitors to the county.

"Does that still qualify as a match" for the state grant, Medley said of the question put to Rodgers.

She said yes, the commissioner continued, so the county will apparently have spent about $1,250 of county revenue for the web site and brochures, he said of the difference between what it spent and what it received from the USDA.