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City of Poulsbo – Lodging Tax Grant Program

The City of Poulsbo uses lodging tax funds to help build a strong visitor economy: Visit Poulsbo! The City is working on ways to strengthen our visitors for the day and overnight visitors, with the goal of positioning Poulsbo as one of the premier shopping, dining, history and waterfront views in the Puget Sound region.

In 1998, the City approved Ordinance 98-03 in accordance with RCW 82.08 and authorized by RCW 67.28.181 to levy an additional 4% tax on charges for lodging activity. In order to collect the additional 4% tax, the City is required to form a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. The committee must consist of at least five members: at least two are representatives from businesses that collect the tax, at least two are persons involved in activities funded by the tax, and one member from the city who acts as chair. Beginning in the 2011 grant process, those organizations that apply for the funds cannot vote on the allocation of the funds.

The City accepts proposals from various groups and organizations for use of the 4% lodging tax for projects related to the cost of tourism promotion, acquisition of tourism-related facilities, or operation of tourism-related events and facilities. Some past and present recipients include the Visit Poulsbo, Poulsbo Historical Society, Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce, Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association (HDPA), Poulsbo Film Festival, Poulsbo SONS of Norway, Viking Fest Organization, NK Tourism Coalition, and Visit Kitsap Peninsula.

If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact Lin Hino, Special Events Coordinator lhino@cityofpoulsbo.com

Eligible activities/projects per state law RCW 67.28.080 includes:

  • RCW 67.28.080 (5) Tourism
  • RCW 67.28.080 (6) Tourism Promotion
  • RCW 67.28.080 (7) Tourism-related facility

Lodging tax revenues under this chapter may be used, directly by any municipality or indirectly through a convention and visitor’s bureau, destination marketing organization or other non profit organizations for:

a.     Tourism marketing;
b.     The marketing and operations of special events and festivals designed to attract tourists;
c.     Supporting the operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by a municipality or a public facilities district created under chapters 35.57 and 36.100 RCW; or
d.     Supporting the operations of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by nonprofit organizations described under 26 U.S.C. Sec. 501 c (3) and 26 U.S.C. Sec. 501c (6) of the internal revenue code of 1986, as amended.  No capital expenditures are allowed for tourism-related facilities owned or operated by a nonprofit organization.

All these goals are encouraged with extra-weighting given to applications demonstrating:

  • Events created during the off-season: Fall/Winter/Spring
  • Proven overnight stays in City lodging facilities for regional events
  • A trend line to self-sustaining funding over time

2024 Lodging Tax Grant Cycle

2024 Lodging Tax Grant Awards have been given to 13 organizations:

If you have any questions about the process, reach out to Lin Hino, Special Events Coordinator lhino@cityofpoulsbo.com @ 360-394-9771

2023-2024 Poulsbo’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee 2023-2024:

Category Representative, Organization
Elected official from the municipality Ed Stern, Poulsbo City Council
Staff (non voting) Lin Hino, Special Events Coordinator
Jeff Ozimek, Director of Parks and Recreation
Debbie Booher, Assistant City Administrator
Lauren M. Ellington, Senior Accountant
Businesses that collect the tax Ashley Walchok, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Poulsbo
Businesses that collect the tax Victoria Luke, Sound West Group
Organizations eligible to apply for funds Greg Enright, Cultural Arts Foundation of the Northwest
Organizations eligible to apply for funds  VACANT – Searching for 2025 Committee Member

 

FAQ for Lodging Tax Grants

Where does the LTAC money come from?

The grant program is made possible through taxes paid by consumers when they stay in paid lodging in the City of Poulsbo.

What can an LTAC grant be used for?

We are putting together a user-friendly guide to eligible expenses, but for now, please see RCW 67.28.1816.

Take a look at this recent article posted by the Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC): Can We Spend Lodging Tax Funds on That?

Can for-profit entities apply for lodging tax funds?

Yes. The statute does not explicitly prohibit for-profit entities from applying for lodging tax funds. The City of Poulsbo departments may apply for funds if the request aligns with the RCWs.The purpose of the funds is to promote tourism in the City of Poulsbo by attracting individuals traveling over 50 miles away and encouraging overnight stays.

How long does it take to fill out the application?

We estimate that it takes about 90 minutes to read, comprehend and thoughtfully answer the questions. We strongly suggest that you read the application in its entirety before filling it out. Make note of any questions you may have and reach out to Lin Wilson at lwilson@cityofpoulsbo.com for answers. You’ll have a much easier time with the application if you prepare all pertinent information before putting “pen to paper.”

How and when will I hear back about the status of my 2023 application?

You will hear back via email in August 2022

After applications are submitted to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, they will be reviewed and evaluated by committee members and staff for completeness and eligibility. Applicants may be contacted to provide clarification, make corrections, or supply additional information. Applications that do not meet the guidelines will be disqualified and returned. Applicants will be notified of the date, time, and place of this Committee meeting and may be requested to attend.

The Committee’s funding recommendation will then be forwarded on to the City of Poulsbo City Council for final decision. Applicants will be notified following the City Council’s decision for funding.

What is the application evaluation criteria?

The following criteria will be utilized in evaluating all proposals.

  1. Tourism Promotion: Does the project meet the basic state and city requirements for tourism promotion? Will it promote a positive image for the city? Will it attract visitors, build new audiences, and encourage tourist expansion? Will it increase awareness of the city’s amenities, history, facilities, and natural environment?
  2. Benefit to the City: How will this project benefit the people of Poulsbo?
  3. Community Support: Does the project have broad-based city appeal or support? What is the evidence of need for this project in the city?
  4. Evidence of Partnerships: What kind and degree of partnership does the project exhibit? Does it exhibit volunteer involvement or inter-jurisdictional, corporate, business, and/or civic support?
  5. Management Capability: How have you demonstrated an ability to successfully complete the project through effective business practices in the areas of finance, administration, marketing, and production? What are the administrative credentials of paid or volunteer staff or individuals?
  6. Scale of Project: Is the project of a scale suitable for this funding program? Can the project be implemented by the end of the year?
  7. Application: Is the application clear, accurate, complete, and neat?
How should I track the number of overnight stays my program or event generates?

You can approach this in several ways.

If your event or program requires attendees to register or buy a ticket, you can include the following survey questions when they check out:

  • Are they staying in overnight paid accommodations?
  • Are they traveling over 50 miles and staying overnight in unpaid accommodations (with friends or family)?
  • Are they traveling over 50 miles and staying for the day only?

You can work with hoteliers on “special rates” for those who attend your event or program. At the end of your program or event, you can get reports from hotels that show how many times guests used your special rate.

You can also survey attendees during your event if you’d like to take a more analog approach.

I am interested in joining the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee

 For jurisdictions of at least 5,000 people, the LTAC must be appointed by the legislative body (city council or county commission) and must contain at least five members, including at least two representatives from businesses required to collect the lodging tax, at least two people involved in activities authorized to be funded by the lodging tax, and one elected official from the jurisdiction to serve as chair (RCW 67.28.1817).

Learn Why: The LTAC team recommends a funding boost for tax revenue to local organizations.  Every year, citizens and visitors alike get the opportunity to celebrate events that are special and unique within our community. These events introduce excitement to our citizens and encourage visitors from many different places that help add to the diversity, interest, and livelihood of our town.

Some examples of how this committee has supported: Historical Downtown Poulsbo Association, Visit Kitsap Peninsula, Viking Festival, Poulsbo Beer Run, Poulsbo Film Festival. Poulsbo Blues and Jazz Festival, and so much more!

Steps to becoming a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee member:

  1. Complete the “Boards and Commission Application” 
  2. Send Applications & Qs to: lhino@cityofpoulsbo.com