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County doles out tourism grants


Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
1/12/2011



The Plumas County Board of Supervisors (BOS) allocated tourism grant funding to local groups at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The individual board members previously ranked the groups' proposals and the clerk of the board averaged those rankings.

The board went down the list of average ranking and discussed each proposal until at least three supervisors agreed on a level of funding.

In some cases a proposal was ranked high by some supervisors, giving it a high average ranking, but given no funding because at least three of the five board members didn't believe it fit into the grant criteria.

There were also proposals that the board didn't discuss because they were too far down in the average rankings and the funding ran out; therefore they weren't included in the table accompanying this article.

Some proposals were funded at a lower level than requested.



Eastern Plumas tourism

The first proposal leading to significant discussion was an Eastern Plumas proposal for the county to help fund Railroad Days, the Winter Snow Fest and smaller events.

New BOS chairwoman Lori Simpson told her fellow board members Portola had its own tourism related tax revenues and should fund its own events.

Indian Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher said he thought the county should give a small contribution of $5,000 instead of the $25,000 request.

"Its just not Railroad Days - Graeagle Plumas Alliance is doing a whole heck of a lot out there," Eastern Plumas Supervisor Terry Swofford argued.

New Graeagle supervisor Jon Kennedy wasn't convinced.

The new board member said he didn't think the request should get any funding "and a lot of those people are right in my district, but they're wanting to fund things they're already doing right now, and that was my only problem. I was looking for something new."

The board emphasized early on in the grant process that the point was for new innovative ideas to be funded.

Simpson and Swofford told Kennedy the Winter Snow Fest was a new event.

Kennedy responded that he meant the event was already planned before the grant-funding program existed - its existence wasn't contingent upon getting county funding.

"But they're having trouble raising the money to do some of these things," Swofford contended.

"You've gotta advertise, you've gotta be out there. I think this brings a lot of people into the area."

"It's gonna help TOT (transient occupancy tax), not just in Portola. You've got Whitehawk, you've got Gold Mountain, you've different places that's gonna benefit from this."

Simpson held her ground: "That's way too much money."

The proposal included the single largest request for funding by any one group.

Chester Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said she would like to give some support to the Winter Snow Fest and the board agreed to give $5,000.



Consultant

The supervisors also balked at a proposal from the Plumas County Visitors Bureau to hire a consultant for $1,000 to investigate the creation of tourism business improvement districts in Plumas.

Those districts have been used as a funding mechanism for tourism services in other counties by collecting fees like other service districts.

Thrall seemed to capture the board's perspective on the issue: "I think if the county wants that we can figure out some other way to fund it."



Films and contingencies

Finally, the board arrived at the ranking level of the Plumas Arts and Plumas-Sierra County Fair collaboration film fest.

Several board members agreed they really liked this idea, but only $4,000 in funding remained when the proposal came up.

Fair Manager John Steffanic said in all reality the event probably wouldn't work with less than $10,000.

Plumas Arts Director Roxanne Valladao told the board she would try to find matching funds from other groups for the next 30 days.

If her search proves unsuccessful, the BOS will split the $4,000 among the next few proposals.

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