CLARION – Municipalities or groups interested in applying for Clarion County Hotel Tax funding will now have a new set of guidelines to follow.

During their meeting on Tuesday morning, Commissioner Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley unanimously approved an updated set of guidelines for applicants to follow when applying for Hotel Tax grants.

“They have already been approved within the Hotel Tax Committee,” Tharan said of the new guidelines. “We just need to approve them.”

The major change highlighted in the new guidelines, the commissioners said, splits the once single grant application into three separate grant categories — a marketing grant, a creative grant and a capital project grant. Depending on the event and what the money will be used for, applicants can apply for one, two or all three grants at a time.

“I think they [the Hotel Tax Committee] are trying to streamline everything,” Tharan said, noting that the committee has made similar attempts in the past.

According to information provided by the Hotel Tax Committee, the purpose of the marketing grant is to “market the area as a leisure, business or meeting travel destination.”

“Not only will the applicant agree to market the festival or event, but will be expected to market orbiter activities within Clarion County,” an email to the commissioners explaining the grant categories states.

When it comes to the creative project grant, the Hotel Tax Committee explains that it is not to be used for marketing purposes, but to develop or expand a program, event, festival or facility to guarantee an overnight stay.

“The applicant may use the funds [from the creative project grant] to expand an existing festival or event from a one-day event to a two- or three-day event,” the information states. “The grant may also be used by a facility...to encourage tourism.”

Finally, the capital projects grant “must enhance a visitor’s experience by developing new or enhancing existing Clarion County tourist attractions or amenities.”

“A major change has the applicant providing a one-page RFP [before beginning the grant process],” the Hotel Tax Committee notes. “If approved, the applicant will provide a presentation before moving on to the other steps.”

The commissioners explained that the changes to the Hotel Tax grant guidelines are specific only to Clarion County.

“The Hotel Tax Committee makes recommendations regarding the money they have to spend to us, and then we have to approve it,” Tharan said, noting that currently 50 percent of the Hotel Tax funding is set aside for grants for local festivals and events. This is up from the long-time established 25 percent. “There’s more money to work with so I think they wanted to create different grants that could be used for capital projects and different things.”

In its email to the commissioners, the Hotel Tax Committee states that it is planning an educational workshop in early February for all interested applicants to learn the correct process for submitting Hotel Tax grants.

Other Business

• The commissioners approved a contract on behalf of corrections with Pest Management for 12 scheduled pest control services at the Clarion County Jail. The cost of the contract is $1,656 for the year.

• Separate motions passed unanimously to table the passing of a five to 10 year Capital Improvement Plan and long-term financial projections and goals, as well as the implementation of new public access measurers to GIS records.

Tharan said more information was needed on both issues.

• Twenty-five representatives from county elected offices, law enforcement, fire departments, emergency management agencies, broadcast and print media, community groups, and facility owners and operators were appointed to the Clarion County Local Emergency Planning Committee for 2019.

• County officials renewed the county’s $5,000 surety bond with GH Harris for 2019.

The commissioners explained that GH Harris is responsible to collecting unpaid per capita taxes in the county.

• The retirement of Darlene Wolbert (sheriff’s office) effective March 1, and the resignations of Ronald Lemmon (corrections) and Krystal Strain (corrections) effective Jan. 9 and Dec. 31, 2018 respectively, were accepted.

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