City of Wilmington mulls Retail Hotel Lodging Tax request process

By John Hamilton -

WILMINGTON — The process surrounding Retail Hotel Lodging Tax requests was at the center of a special City Revitalization Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Kyle Weddington of Main Street Wilmington presented a rough draft of an application for people wishing to apply for the Lodging Tax.

Weddington’s draft also included what he called a clear mission statement for the tax: “To be patronage to Wilmington businesses, promote heritage and attractions, and contribute to the quality of life for those residing in the city.”

“It’s very specific but it kind of allows to encompass a lot of different projects. I think that is the heart and soul of this entire program,” said Weddington.

The tax, which passed in August 2016, will give the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau 50 percent of the city’s hotel lodging taxes; 0.5 of the remaining 50 percent will go to the general fund; and the other 49.5 is administered by council “to support local governmental and/or non-profit, quality of life and economic development.”

The reviewing process would be that the application would be submitted to the Mayor’s Office, where someone would review it. If it failed to meet certain qualifications, then it would not be taken to the committee.

If it does, then it’ll be taken before the committee where the applicant can make a presentation. This is an important aspect, according to Weddington.

“I’d like them to come in front of the full committee and have all these attachments, per se, that they present to you guys and be like, ‘OK, this is how prepared we are for this event,’” Weddington told the committee.

The committee would then review the application after the presentation and grade it with a scoring system Weddington made.

Anything less than 30 points would be denied immediately.

To get that score, City Administrator Marian Miller said, “You’d have to try and fail. It’s a generous grading scale, but at least there’s some effort put into it.”

Miller and Committee Chairperson Jonathan McKay both indicated the grading would make the applications more competitive so the funds get used.

Weddington also highlighted a post-review to look at the project and see if the money is being used wisely. This would allow them to have a record to look back on if the applicant applies again.

Main Street Wilmington Co-Director Darcy Reynolds showed support for it.

Mayor John Stanforth expressed some concerns about some of the subjective language in the application. Stanforth added with each applicant, the group would have to their homework on the project.

The committee will work on a final version of the process by their next meeting.

If they approve it, it will move on to the full City Council for approval.

By John Hamilton

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574