Lodging Tax, Green Belt and Pickle Ball Highlight GR City Council Meeting

Lodging Tax, Green Belt and Pickle Ball Highlight GR City Council Meeting

The Green River City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, and a presentation by Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism highlighted the impact of the local lodging tax in 2023.  CEO Jenissa Meredith said that the 2022-2023 total collection was down 2% from 21-22 , but still totaled $1,265,384. The tax has been in existence since 1991 and is collected by local motels and hotels, and the funds are used for marketing and promotional purposes to generate tourism in Sweetwater County.

“Historically the chambers of commerce have been the two visiting centers in the county, and we have contracted with them for services to help with employee costs and to distribute brochures around the county, and we did the same with the events complex,” said Meredith.  In 2022-23, 77% of the budgeted funds went toward the marketing plan, 9% went to administrative costs, 7% to event grants, 4% to the SEC block grant, and 3% went to chamber block grants.  Meredith said the funds go towards 30 events each year including The River Festival and Art on The Green.

Meredith also informed the council of the results of their Event and International Tour Recruitment, successfully landing the 2023 and 2024 State 3A and 4A Boys and Girls Soccer tournaments, which will generate an estimated $6 million in Economic Impact for Sweetwater County.  “For every $1 spent, the return is $490 to the County,” Meredith said, “It’s obviously not a perfect science, but we have the ability now to track that.”

Green Belt Task Force

John Freeman, the Chair of The Greenbelt Task Force also gave an update on current projects and funding to the council. Freeman wanted to highlight the success over the years of the task force saying “If you look at what we’ve built in the last 34 years, I think everyone has the ability to be proud about what we’ve accomplished. About 80% of everything that’s been produced in the Green Belt Corridor has been done by donations, volunteers, and in kind labor. Now we have the opportunity to do more.”

The Task Force is closer to bringing the Skyline Trail to reality thanks to a $100,000 grant provided by The Shilcox Foundation. The Skyline Trail will be a 7ft wide handicap accessible trail starting at Upland Way and continuing up South hill. William H. Smith Engineering will do the drawings and engineering at their costs, and Searle Brothers Construction will begin to build the trail for the cost of their fuel and consumables. 

Freeman also said that the Task Force used a $72,000 grant provided by the city to seal cracks in the asphalt portions of the Green Belt, but that they were still a little bit short. “We’ll probably be back to ask for a little more, so we have a few decades where we don’t have to worry about maintenance,” Freeman told the council.

Amended Budget

The council also unanimously approved a resolution to amend the fiscal year 2024 budget by just over $1.3 million after higher than expected sales taxes,  however the actual increase to the revenue and to the expenditures is half of that amount. Finance Director Chris Meats explained that, “We are increasing revenues by $692,000 and increasing revenues and fund balances by the same amount.  Budgets run on positives or negatives, we’re not decreasing any budget so we’re not doing any reductions. Revenues increased, and expenditures increased so that’s why it looks doubled.”  The funds will be used on three big ticket items, pool and locker room tile upgrades for the Rec Center, MTD for the Police Department, and upgrades for the audio & video system in the council chambers.

Pickle Ball Discussion

During the closing comments Councilman Berg spoke once again about the pickle ball discussion from the previous monthly meeting.  “I have probably spent more time on this than any single issue in the 7 years that I’ve been on council. I talked to 40+ people easy. At this time I’ve had discussions with Reed and some other council people. I do not feel the need to ask for a workshop. Reed has it under control” said Berg. 

“One thing I do want to talk about that I have a personal issue with, and that I won’t tolerate, is that as a councilman, I feel like the city staff and employees that work for the city are my employees in a sense, not in the sense that I’m their boss , that I can tell them what to do, or go to their office and chew them out, but I feel personally responsible for those employees. So one thing I won’t tolerate is the staff at the rec center being disrespected, yelled at, intimidated, or pushed around in any sense of the word” Berg continued.

Councilman Killpack echoed Councilman Berg saying “ I do also support whole heartedly that the workers at the rec center must be respected. If there is any abuse of any kind there needs to be accountability in regards to treating the staff.  I had a good meeting with Reed and Chris and Katie, and I think we made some good progress on the situation that we talked about last week.  And I still feel the same way, and I do not apologize for bringing it forth. But I think Reed is doing a great job and he’s trying to bring that to a conclusion without going to a workshop, and I have full faith and confidence that will probably be the case.”

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