CLARION – During their regular meeting on Tuesday, the Clarion County Board of Commissioners approved updates to the criteria and guidelines for the Clarion County Tourism Grant.

In explaining the need for the updates, Commissioner Ted Tharan said that the local Hotel Tax Committee wanted to be ensure compliance with new state guidelines and to open new funding opportunities to promote tourism.

“These are the recommendations of the committee,” he said of the of the updated guidelines. “The committee wanted to look at what it can really do to promote tourism and get people to come and stay in the hotels.”

In addition to attracting other applicants, Commissioner Wayne Brosius pointed out that a major change with the new guidelines is an increase in the maximum amount available to individual applicants per project each funding cycle.

“The maximum amount was increased to $50,000,” Brosius said.

In addition, as stated in the guidelines, grant requests must meet the minimum allowable amount of $500 and must “demonstrate a minimum of a 25 percent in-kind and/or cash match.”

The guidelines also require grant applications to be submitted at least 180 days prior to the start of an event.

There are three types of projects that can be considered for possible funding. They include capital projects, marketing projects and creative projects. Capital projects develop or enhance existing Clarion County tourist attractions. Marketing projects include tourism-related programs primarily targeting non-Clarion County residents. Creative projects involve collaborative ventures between various county non-profit, for-profit and private/public entities promoting overnight stays in Clarion County.

According to the guidelines, it is the purpose of the Clarion County Tourism Grant to generate overnight stays within Hotel Tax law “taxable lodging facilities” — such as permanent hotels, bed and breakfasts, motels and cabins — and to increase visitation and enhance the tourism experience in Clarion County.

“Grants will be awarded on the basis of merit as determined by the Clarion County Tourism Review Committee, Clarion County Board of Commissioners and administered through the county’s designation tourism promotion agency,” the guidelines state.

Following the commissioners meeting on Jan. 23, the Clarion County Retirement board met to make appointments for the new year.

In its first order of business, the retirement board appointed a number of employee retirement fund financial institutions for the 2018 fiscal year. They included: Cornerstone Advisors Asset Management Inc. of Bethlehem, investment manager; Wells Fargo Investments of Clarion, custodian; Boetger Retirement Plan Services/Northwest Bank, deposit administrator/custodian; Boetger Retirement Plan Services, actuary; and Clarion County Auditors, accountant/auditor.

The board also set the employee retirement interest rate at 4 percent, the same as last year.

Tharan noted that law mandates the rate be set between 4 and 5.5 percent. The board reduced its contributions from the maximum 5.5 percent to 4 percent last year.

Clarion County Treasurer Tom McConnell voted against the motion, citing the same reasons as last year for his disagreement.

“I was thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to raise it when we have a good year,” McConnell said. “I think it was lowered too quickly.”

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