The Community Facilities Advisory Board approved eight requests for organizational funding totaling $571,863 at their Thursday evening meeting.
The funds will go to seven Dodge City tourism attractions and the Tourism Task Force.
The interlocal agreement between Dodge City and Ford County governing "Why Not Dodge?" sales tax projects provides for up to 15 percent of the sales tax collected in any given year to be set aside for organizational funding.
The joint city and county commissions began allocating organizational funding in 2007 and awarded a total of $2.4 million to local tourism agencies in the first six years of the program.
The CFAB receives applications from tourism organizations then evaluates the applications and makes recommendations to the joint city and county commissions.
CFAB members spent 90 minutes in executive session Thursday evening discussing the applications before announcing their decisions in a public session at 7 p.m.
Why Not Dodge?
Duane Ross, chair of the Tourism Task Force, reported to CFAB regarding the progress made in 2012 and presented the task force's 2013 budget request.
"The Task Force was created in April of 2009 to establish priorities and implement recommendations in the tourism master plan," Ross said.
"We have completed the process of establishing priorities and we're working now on developing strategies and establishing resources to accomplish those priorities," he said.
The components of the Tourism Task Force budget include the salary, overhead and expenses for the tourism coordinator. Melissa McCoy currently holds the position as project development coordinator for the city. Budget amount: $82,000.
Other elements of the Tourism Task Force budget are a facade improvement fund which can be used to pay 50 percent of downtown facade projects ($25,000), software from the Foundation Center, useful in researching grant opportunities ($1,295), funds for a grant application consultant ($12,000), funds for projects at the Santa Fe Depot ($150,000) and contingency funds of $45,000.
The task force has identified the Santa Fe Depot and the Depot Theater Company as one of the most important components of the tourism master plan.
"We are working with the theater to find a productive use for unused space," Ross said.
Several ideas are begin considered, including a restaurant, a boutique hotel and other ways to get more activity in the building.
In response to a question from the committee about the possibility of Amtrak moving their service to a southern route and abandoning their Dodge City operations, Ross said "That would be a tragedy for our community, to lose that ridership, but it would not affect the value of the depot. When we traveled to Winslow, Ariz., to look at other stations, the Dodge City depot stood out as one of the best and also one of the only ones open at night for train passengers."
The total 2013 budget for the task force is $315,295.
Page 2 of 2 - Carrying forward funds not used in 2012, the task force's request from CFAB was $251,247.
Following the announcement of the committee’s recommendations, Mayor Rick Sowers noted that the total recommendation amounted to approximately 11 percent of projected 2012 sales tax revenue.
"Spending that amount puts us at zero growth in our surplus fund," Sowers said.
According to Nanette Pogue, finance director and city clerk, expenses are greater than revenue in the 2012 CFAB account.
CFAB's recommendations now go to the joint city/county commissions for final approval.
Follow Don Steele on Twitter @Don_dcglobe.