Visitors’ bureau director talks to South Jax trustees

By Gary Scott on January 16, 2016 at 11:50am

Should South Jacksonville redistribute its hotel-motel tax revenue to the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau?

That’s the question board members may take up in future meetings after the bureau’s executive director made a presentation at a Planning and Public Facilities Committee meeting on Thursday.

During a Jacksonville City Council meeting last month, aldermen approved an increase to the hotel-motel tax for city establishments to eight percent.

Following the vote, Alderman Steve Warmowski expressed a desire for South Jacksonville to contribute its five-and-a-half-percent hotel-motel tax to the Jacksonville CVB.

The village had been part of the bureau, but trustees voted to leave it in February 2010. South Jacksonville has since kept the revenue and uses it for its annual Concert in the Cornfield.

During her presentation Thursday night, Henry didn’t outright ask for South Jacksonville to re-join the bureau, but invited trustees to find out more information about what the organization does for tourism in West Central Illinois.

Henry has previously pointed out that South Jacksonville’s hotels are mentioned in CVB marketing materials as per grant requirements. However, the bureau’s website only gives city lodging options.

Henry pointed out to village trustees that the South Jacksonville antique mall is promoted in an antique travel guide, and the bureau also promotes the Prairieland Steam Show.

Henry added she was “dying” to help promote the Concert in the Cornfield.

Village President Steve Waltrip didn’t have the numbers available for hotel-motel tax income for the village’s most recent fiscal year. For the city, Henry says the number was about $170-thousand in 2015.

Henry previously told us when South Jacksonville broke off from the CVB, it represented about a 40-percent cut in revenue.

Henry talked about the possibility of the village sharing not all of its tax income with the bureau, but a portion of it, saying a similar arrangement exists between the Illinois municipalities of Decatur and Forsyth for their local tourism bureau.

Trustee Paula Belobrajdic-Stewart said it would benefit the village board to talk about the issue, but that it’s not a top priority currently. Committee chair Mike Elliott agreed. Stewart added she doesn’t think the village would want to contribute the entirety of its tax to the bureau.

South Jacksonville currently has three major hotels, and a fourth one could be on the way.