The Hill County Commissioners met last Friday, February 19th with a group of Motel owners from the Havre area to consider a petition to form a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). Every single Havre Motel sent a representative to the meeting with the exception of the El Toro Inn.
A TBID was cited by the Motel people as a way to generate additional funding to recruit visitors to the Havre area which would in turn help our economy. A flat assessment would be self-imposed for each occupied night at member motels and at the end of each quarter the fees collected would be remitted to Hill County and could only be used for tourism promotion, marketing of the local area and events, and to increase awareness of what Havre has to offer to visitors. The assessment was requested at $1.00 per occupied motel room night to be added to the regular room charge. The expenditure of the collected money would be decided by a board made up entirely of Motel people with assistance from the local Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee. TBID promoters anticipate a budget of between 50-80 thousand dollars per annum which will allow the local board to be aggressive and creative in their sales efforts. The Havre Chambers current budget for recruiting visitors to Havre is around $3,000 although the recent annexation of the AmericInn and Super 8 into City limits will increase the Chambers budget for next year to upwards of $20,000 because they now have enough motel rooms within city limits to meet the State minimal threshold for the next level of funding.
Recently House Bill 235 simply expanded existing BID legislation to allow for tourism promotion. The district can be non-contiguous in the case of lodging and the funds are to be in addition to and not to supplement the existing bed tax. The TBID can run for a maximum of 10 years and after the initial term the motels must re-petition. All TBID funds are assessed according to occupied room nights and are collected quarterly. TBID funds are not collected on rooms that are rented by the month. To put a TBID into effect 62% of the lodging facilities must agree a TBID is needed. There are currently over 400 motel rooms inn Havre and the only motels opting out of the proposed TBID were the Circle Inn, Siesta Motel, Hi-Line Motel and the El Toro.
The 4 motels opting out of the TBID program cited concerns that this extra dollar per night would drastically affect their business and further had concerns that they may lose business to neighboring towns like Chinook. Since the original proposal included all motels in Havre it is currently being re-done to exclude the four that don’t want to participate and the Hill County Commissioners will call for a new hearing to implement the TBID.
KUDOS to the motels that was willing to step up to the plate and support and promote future events, conventions, and visits to the City of Havre. Considering what the Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee has accomplished on a budget of around $3,000 per year just take a minute to imagine what can happen with an additional $50-80,000 going into the promotion of Havre area accommodations.
We at the Corrector have to wonder why the expenditure of $80,000 collected from out of area travelers to be used for promotion of our local area by private business owners was not deemed important enough to have a story in our local paid subscription “news” paper? (by the way, great job from our “professional” news people for finally reporting on Jim Catt’s filing for Hill County Commissioner in tonight’s Havre Daily “News”. Very timely indeed)