City awards hospitality tax grants

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Nine groups benefit in annual allocation

By Jesef Williams

Nine local groups will benefit from the latest round of hospitality tax grants from the city of Lancaster.

City Council unanimously approved the recommendation on how to divvy up $50,000 during its meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 12.

The city received 14 applications for the 2012-13 hospitality tax grant cycle. Last week, its special Support Services committee recommended funding nine of those requests. Five projects were denied.

Coalition for Healthy Youth and the Community Playhouse received the most, with $10,000 apiece. The Lancaster Fatherhood Project, with $6,000, had the next highest award amount.

The award amounts for the other six recipients ranged from $1,200 to $5,265.

Five of the nine groups received the exact amount they requested, while the others got lesser amounts. Those nine groups had a total request amount of $82,965.

When including the four projects that were completely denied funding, that request total rises to $269,515. Lancaster Dixie Baseball – which seeks upgrades at Wylie Park – had the largest request this time with $130,000.

“We had very good projects that were submitted, but only so much money,” said Teresa Meeks, the city’s Support Services director.

“These were our recommendations,” she said. “It was a tough decision to make.” 

The city’s hospitality tax grant program provides funding for organizations that provide services or programs that have the chief aim to foster tourism.

City Councilman Gonzie Mackey asked Meeks why a group with strong patronage in the past has seen its hospitality award amount dwindle over time.

He mentioned the Coalition for Healthy Youth as an example. The organization is once again gearing up for its annual Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse in Rural Communities conference, which brings in many visitors from other states.

Meeks acknowledged that the conference has succeeded in yielding tourism. However, she added that in the past, the city had more money in its hospitality tax fund to allocate for projects.

She also said there were an unusual high number of applicants this time around.

City Administrator Helen Sowell chimed in, saying the hospitality tax money isn’t meant to sustain a project forever.

“We try to provide the seed money that gets them off and going,” Sowell said.

Following is the list of grant recipients for 2013 and their project, along with the amount they received (and the amount requested in parentheses):

– Coalition for Healthy Youth – Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse in Rural Communities, $10,000 ($25,000)

– Community Playhouse – 2012-13 season series, $10,000 ($15,000) 

– Lancaster Fatherhood Project – Harlem MagicMasters charity game, $6,000 ($6,000) 

– Habitat for Humanity – “Tri for the Roses” public safety officer triathlon, $5,265 ($5,265) 

– Hejaz Shriners – Fall ceremony and parade, $5,000 ($10,000) 

– Olde English District – Ag-Art Show, $5,000 ($5,000) 

– Lancaster County Council of the Arts – “The Nutcracker” ballet, $4,035 ($12,000) 

– Avante Garde Center for the Arts – folk art show, $3,500 ($3,500) 

– American Cancer Society – Relay for Life, $1,200 ($1,200) 

The following groups applied, but were denied. (The amount requested is in parentheses): 

– Lancaster Dixie Baseball – Wylie Park field upgrades and maintenance ($130,000) 

– Barr Street High School Foundation – Remembering the Legacy of Barr Street High School ($30,000) 

– Lancaster Dixie Majors – Dixie Majors State Championship ($18,300) 

– United Way – 2013 Bed Race ($4,850)

– Lancaster County Council of the Arts – Ladies Night Out ($3,400)


Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152