Members of a City Council study committee will meet with the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and the Lawton Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) to weigh funding requests against available revenues from the hotel-motel tax.
The work is part of the preliminary budget process under way as council members listen to discussion about what Fiscal Year 2020-2021 will bring, in terms of city services. The problem: while city administrators know the COVID-19 pandemic and actions taken to stem the spread of the virus will have a significant effect on the budget, no one knows yet just how bad the impact will be.
City administrators are asking the council to approve a budget that everyone acknowledges is a “placeholder,” meaning they already know the budget will be amended repeatedly as the revenue picture becomes clearer in coming months.
The City of Lawton allocates funding to the chamber and LEDC each year through the hotel-motel tax, a 5.5 percent tax charged on the rental of hotel and motel rooms in Lawton. About 70 percent of the revenue goes to those two entities; the remainder is split among categories for tourism, economic development and the Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority.
LEDC also is in line to receive funding from the economic development category of the Capital Improvements Program amended by city voters earlier this year.
Under a funding allocation proposal for the current fiscal year, adjusted for the 50 percent revenue loss that city officials are predicting in the hotel-motel tax, City Manager Michael Cleghorn estimated the chamber and LEDC will share about $420,000 of the $600,000 expected from the tax between July 1 and June 30, 2021. Based on last year’s distribution formula, that would mean about $150,000 to LEDC and $260,000 for the chamber.
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