Bottom line: Get heads in Mt. CB beds
[ By Kendra Walker ]
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council has spent the last month reassessing their admissions tax grant application and reporting processes, and during their February 2 council meeting agreed to some updated guidelines and requirements moving forward in the grant process.
Council agreed there are a lot of gray areas surrounding the types of events to support, what the dollars should specifically fund and how recipients report back results. The town collects a 4-percent admissions tax for any event that enters Mt. Crested Butte town limits; the revenue is then utilized to fund transportation, as well as the grants for marketing and event sponsorship.
In recent years, the Town Council has expressed disappointment in some of the grant recipients’ reporting, as some organizations fail to report back or demonstrate the town’s return on investment, a.k.a., how many people visited and spent money in Mt. Crested Butte as a result of the event.
“Certainly we want to support events, but it’s unfair to other candidates who spend significant time making sure they’re reporting and following the protocols in order to be considered again,” said council member Lauren Koelliker.
Council member Michael Bacani agreed, “If we’re being good stewards of the public’s money and taxes, we should be able to show the benefit of that to the community. If grant recipients are not reporting we can’t show how their tax dollars are benefiting Mt. Crested Butte.”
While the grant is intended to fund marketing and event sponsorship, there has been some confusion about what the grant is permitted to fund. The council agreed there is uncertainty on whether the money can fund certain event operating costs, such as hiring performers for an event, hiring event staff, awards and prizes, etc.
Regarding hiring a band, “I have a hard time [with that being] event sponsorship, that’s not marketing to me,” said mayor Janet Farmer. “For me, paying salaries at all is not part of event sponsorship.”
“I think it’s almost specific to circumstances,” said council member Nicholas Kempin. “The band, that’s what draws people in.” He also referenced temporary event staff that would be hired to direct traffic and park cars. “That would be salaries for people, but they are also critical people to putting on the event.”
The council agreed the grant money should not go toward helping to pay the base salary of existing internal staff, but would be ok with using the funds to hire a temporary worker for the event. Same goes for equipment; the organization may use it to rent gear or equipment but not purchase for the organization’s perpetual use.
The council also discussed looking at different criteria based on different types of requests, and scaling the reporting based on the event size.
“Has our reporting gotten too cumbersome?” asked Farmer. “Should a smaller grant be required to do the same amount of work? That’s been my concern that we’re pushing out the small people that don’t have the skills and then we get mad at them because they don’t have the reporting that we want.”
Council member Roman Kolodziej proposed an update in the grant criteria, which the council agreed to: “We recognize different grant levels should garner different depths of reporting. A small organization that asks for a few thousand dollars should not be expected to report to the same level of detail as a much larger organization asking for one hundred thousand dollars.”
The council also discussed the types of events they want to focus on and whether broad marketing campaigns by the Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) and Travel CB that encourage visitors to the entire valley are helpful anymore.
“We’re beyond awareness—it’s calls to action at this point,” said Kolodziej. “I don’t care if someone knows we exist, I care if people come here.”
Bacani agreed, saying, “For those for-profits, can they truly show that their marketing efforts of which our dollars are part of, are truly bringing in that amount of money [to Mt. Crested Butte]?”
Ultimately, the council wants grant recipients to provide a clear picture of the town’s return on investment for sponsoring the event. For example, Kolodziej said, “How many people did you bring to the town? How many nights did they stay here? How much money do you think they spent?”
If the applicant fails to report back to the council, they will be ineligible to apply for one year. The criteria also states, “We do not desire to become a regular part of an operational budget for an organization,” as the town wants to encourage the creativity to develop new events that will attract new and repeat visitors.
The town is currently accepting applications for the Summer 2021 grant cycle and applications are due on March 11 by 5 p.m. The town council will announce the awards at a special town council meeting on March 30.