THH

The Tillamook Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is pleased to announce the opening of a tourism-related facilities grant round, opening Wednesday, Dec. 11. To bring us up to present, the county collects transient lodging tax (TLT) from qualifying overnight rentals throughout Tillamook County.

Thirty percent of those funds are dedicated to the roads department. Of the remaining 70 percent, the county manages about 55 percent of the funds for investment in local facilities that serve visitors.

The definition of facilities in this case is broad, encompassing brick and mortar facilities, such as the Tillamook County Fairgrounds, an accessible restroom for Tillamook Association for the Performing Arts (TAPA), the Tillamook Forest Center Pavilion, the Tillamook Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center façade renovation, the Faye Jensen Hall at the Kiawanda Community Center, an auditorium renovation at the North County Recreation District, a kitchen upgrade at the Rockaway Beach Civic Facility and accessible bathrooms at Kilchis Point Trail.

In addition to stick built facilities, funds have been used for the Carnahan River Boat Dock, the Cape Kiwanda Beach Access, engineering for the Oceanside Beach Access, trails (including tsunami evacuation trails) at Nehalem Bay State Park, Salmonberry Trail planning, the Port of Garibaldi Event Center Tent and Visitor Information Booth and the Tillamook Coast Old Growth Forest Center Preserve in Rockaway Beach.

In all, nearly $2.6 million has been awarded to date on 50 tourism-related facilities projects throughout the county. For the past year the BOCC has been engaged in a strategic plan for future investment of TLT facilities funds. This planning grew out of a desire to be strategic about our investments and to have a plan that reflects how the public wants us to use the funds. Many people participated in the planning process via community listening sessions and surveys both in person and online conducted by Future iQ.

The conclusion of the planning process was emphatically clear: the community wants us to invest TLT facilities funds in trails, to protect and enhance our natural resources and in infrastructure, with an emphasis on parking and restrooms. They want us to manage the impact of tourism through destination management as opposed to attracting more visitors. This message came through loud and clear and was consistent throughout the county, from every demographic group. The upcoming and future grant applications for facilities funds will be weighed using new measures that support sustainable tourism and the priorities of Tillamook County citizens.

This brings us to present. The county has been sitting on TLT facilities funds in anticipation of completion of the strategic plan. We have approximately $3.3 million to allocate. In the facilities grant round that will open Dec. 11, $875,000 will be available for community facilities grants and $1.5 million will be available for county managed facilities projects. The remainder will be held in reserve. The county managed facilities projects will include big ticket items for which the county is a lead, sponsor, or key participant. This is a new approach that takes into account communities like Oceanside, Neskowin and Pacific City that produce the majority of the revenue but do not have city employees to write grants or manage projects.

The December 2019 facilities grant round will bring us up to speed in terms of public investment of funds. Thereafter the tourism-related facilities grant program will be annual, opening every year in July. Future grant rounds will likely be for smaller total amounts, commensurate with annual TLT revenue. In other words, the first grant round will be bigger because we have been saving up the revenue for a couple of years.

Please find the tourism-related facilities grant applications and instructions on December 11 on the county website at www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/Bocc/TLTFacilities.htm. The round will close on Friday, February 7, 2020 at 4:00 pm. We look forward to seeing all of the facilities and project proposals that our community puts forward. For more information, please contact Susan Corbisiero, Tillamook County Executive Assistant, at scorbisi@co.tillamook.or.us or 503-842-3431.

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