Elgin is planning to increase its local hotel/motel tax to 8 percent from 4 percent, instead of to 6 percent, after heeding pleas from the Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau not to cut off its funding.
The increase would add $2.78 to the cost of a room, City Manager Rick Kozal said. Each additional percentage point in hotel/motel taxes is expected to bring in about $120,000.
"I find this particularly attractive because it does not rest on the backs of Elgin residents and businesses owners," Kozal said.
By comparison, the hotel/motel tax is 6 percent in Hoffman Estates and 8 percent in Schaumburg, he said.
The budget Kozal proposed last month eliminated the bureau's $212,500 funding. The bureau gets matching state funds based on the local contribution.
Bureau President and CEO Kim Bless had asked the city council to give her agency a chance by setting up a contract with clear goals and objectives. Council members on Wednesday said they were OK with that but urged the agency to spend less on salaries and do a better job marketing Elgin's events.
"The organization is top-heavy. We need to change that culture," Councilman Terry Gavin said.
Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger said the bureau spends too much on salaries and should spend a lot more on marketing.
"I am really hoping the (city's) $200,000 is going to be spent well in the next year," she said.
The bureau has three full-time employees -- a director of marketing, a sales manager and Bless, whose salary last year was $122,000 -- and a part-time tourism services coordinator. The sales manager was hired in October, Bless said.
The bureau's $435,000 budget for the current fiscal year shows $280,627, or 65 percent, going to salaries, benefits and a vehicle stipend for Bless, Kozal said. Marketing, travel and trade show expenses are $69,173, or 16 percent of the budget -- a 29 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year, he said.
Those figures come from Barb Keselica, the city's special events and community engagement manager, who has been serving on the board since June, Kozal said.
Councilman John Steffen said the bureau "adds value" but "needs to be reset."
"Elgin is not a vacation destination. Nobody is going to come here on spring break," he said. "But we have lots of events that go on in this town that should be marketed as a package deal."
Councilman Rich Dunne said the bureau's website needs better oversight because it includes a listing for a pizza place that closed in August. As of Thursday afternoon, the listing was still there.
The bureau's contract likely will be finalized in January, Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley said.