At this Monday’s meeting of the Sonoma City Council, the topic of funding for the Sonoma Valley visitor’s Bureau by the City of Sonoma is under discussion. Specifically, the agenda includes a recommended resolution for council consideration which includes financial support by the City of Sonoma of $100,000, in part to replace funding no longer available from the former Redevelopment Agency, in the amount of $217,000 per year.
However, in a letter to the City Council sent by community member David Eichar, who also sent a copy of his letter to the SUN, he notes that in 2012 the City Council and City Manager at that time agreed that the Sonoma Tourism Improvement District (STID), in the event of the loss of Redevelopment funding, “should be tasked with funding the Visitors Bureau. This would remove the Visitor’s Bureau operations from becoming a General Fund expense.”
The STID is estimated to receive $735,000 for promotion of tourism in Sonoma in 2017 resulting from its 2% assessment placed on all hotel room charges in Sonoma. This is approximately $300,000 more than in 2012, when the funding of the Visitor’s Bureau was up for discussion before the City Council.
The STID is offering to cover $100,000 in Visitor’s Bureau expense, but is asking the City of Sonoma to cover an additional $100,000 for each of the next three years, a total of $300,000. The city recently approved its budget, and its finance director and City Manager indicated there was little “wiggle room” in that budget. It will require a vote of the majority of the members of the City Council to approve spending $100,000 from the General Fund to satisfy the funding request of the STID and the Visitor’s Bureau.