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The following transcript is of Yuma Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Morgan speaking to City of Yuma council members and Mayor Douglas Nicholls prior to the approval of the 2017-2018 Preliminary Budget (MC 2017-076) at the April 5, 2017 City Council Meeting.
"Thank you for the difficult job you do and thank you for your willingness to serve the citizens of Yuma. It's admirable.
It's unfortunate that we find ourselves at this point. We've spent so much time debating YVB's value and an amount of money that represents slightly more than one-tenth of one percent of this proposed budget.
However, it represents 20 percent of YVB's budget and an almost 40 percent cut in hospitality tax funding.
As you may imagine, I've been fielding calls and emails for the past couple of weeks about this proposed cut. Many are outraged and wanting to speak at the council meeting. I've discouraged that to respect the council and its time.
Many of those inquiring are asking, "why is this happening?" They are shocked by this proposed cut.
My response is that I have no idea, the city sales tax revenue is higher than it has been in 10 years; the two percent hospitality tax is up 10.4 percent over last year; hotel occupancy rate is up 12 percent; average daily rate (ADR) is up 1.5 percent; revenue per available room (RevPAR) is up 13.7 percent; and room demand is up 11.6 percent.
All our social media and website traffic is up well over 60 percent. Every indicator we use to measure success is trending very positively and we are very proud of that.
I understand that there are many important things for the city to consider, but I question the wisdom of cutting funding for an organization that brings tax dollars into the community. We can learn from other communities' mistakes, other communities that realized significant reductions in tax collection when they cut tourism funding.
Council member Thomas, last night, made many references to cuts to outside agencies — according to Schedule 3, page 132 of this proposed budget, YVB is the only outside agency with a suggested cut in funding.
The hospitality tax has very specific areas where revenue can be spent according to the tax payers. It can only be used for tourism, riverfront development, and parks and recreation; however, a successful destination marketing organization (DMO) will generate new tax dollars that can be spent on public safety through the general fund.
We are currently looking at all possibilities for future funding. We've applied for grant funding and we're considering the possibility of an initiative to increase the hospitality tax, to name a few.
The Board, staff of YVB and I love Yuma, we love promoting Yuma, and, no matter what happens here tonight or over the next few weeks, we will continue to do that to the best of our ability.
Thank you for your continued support."
The Yuma Visitors Bureau is always happy to assist members of print, digital and broadcast media, either on assignment or pitching an idea with a Yuma angle.
Media Relations Specialist Ann Walker can suggest itineraries and facilitate visits, or provide you with the inspired details to help nail down an assignment. We pride ourselves on always going "above and beyond."
You can download background and "anytime" materials below; dated press releases appear "most recent first" at left. Call or email us for photos and B-roll video.
YVB periodically hosts group and individual press trips, and is glad to partner with other Arizona or California DMOs to coordinate a visit to several regions.
For more information, contact Ann Walker at 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell) or email email@example.com. Thanks for your interest in the Yuma area.