By Linda Dillman
Heads in beds are putting money into city of Canal Winchester coffers and helping to benefit both local tourism and non-profit organizations throughout the community.
The city levies a six percent transient occupancy (bed) tax that is assessed when guests use lodging furnished by a local hotel, motel, or similar business. One half of the tax revenue benefits Destination: Canal Winchester, which is the city’s designated visitor and convention bureau.
Canal Winchester City Council designates the other three percent to fund the annual bed tax grant program. During its Dec. 20 meeting, council approved a resolution distributing 2022 bed tax grants to 13 organizations that applied between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 for funding.
The list of recommended grants includes: $2,000 for Boy Scout Troop 103 to repair, maintain an operate a troop bus; $2,000 for the BrockStrong Foundation for their 2022 Labor Day Baseball Tournament; and $2,000 to the CW Art Guild for the 2022 Mural Project.
David’s Way/Canal Village asked for $2,000 for computers, a printer and supplies and chairs for older adults; $2,000 for Friends for Life Animal Haven to fund their City Kitty Round Up; $2,000 for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10523 for supplies and advertising for the annual Veterans Day Celebration and $2,000 for Indians Cross Country Boosters Dr. Bender 5K Classic.
Canal Winchester Finance Director Amanda Jackson anticipates new hotels will add to the bed tax fund and asked council for their advice on how additional funding should be distributed.
“Do we put it in the general fund?” asked Jackson. “Do we put it in parks? Do we put it towards the historical society? What do we do with it?”
A preliminary suggestion put 10 percent of any excess in support of the historical society; 10 percent to the CWICC, which is a non-profit that allocates bed tax grants for building improvements; 45 percent set aside for city parks; and 35 percent to the organizers of the Blues and Ribs Fest and the Labor Day Festival.
“My hope is that a certain portion of that could be allocated for a DORA (designated outdoor refreshment area for supplies),” said Councilwoman Jill Amos. “It’s also one of the things that can attract and draw people in.”
Councilman Bob Clark said additional park money could help accelerate construction instead of city administrators trying to find funding.
Councilman Mike Coolman felt it was best to wait to make a decision until the new council is seated after the first of the year.
Amos used the opportunity to open a discussion on the DORA and said businesses are supportive of the endeavor, but would like to see it phased in slowly instead of held for the first time during a large-scale city event like the Labor Day Festival, which can draw thousands to Canal Winchester.
Coolman said the first smaller event is the Art Stroll, which is held the Saturday after Mother’s Day.
“Their thoughts were if we start to introduce it, they’ll slowly get their staff introduced to it,” said Amos. “The restaurants and businesses were hoping for a slow thing, to work it in and make it sustainable. I think it can be done. I think the businesses are on board to help.”