Tiburon will donate more than $100,000 to the town’s business and tourism organizations to supplement lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city council voted unanimously last month to split $103,736 between the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and Destination Tiburon.
The amount is based on a portion of the temporary occupancy tax revenue that the town allocates to the organization each year. The funds were provided to the town through the American Rescue Program Act. The Council voted on the issue on September 9. twenty one.
According to town officials, the town’s lodging tax revenue for the 2018-19 fiscal year was $907,772. The Chamber of Commerce and destination Tiburon each received 5 percent of the total, or $45,389. This allocation drops to $31,932 in 2019-20; $21,165 in 2020-21; and $39,535 in 2021-22.
“If you’re down in the fiscal year, you’re going to hit the top water mark in 2019,” said town manager Greg Chanis. “We’re seeing the impact of COVID in 2020, 2021 and 2022.”
During the pandemic, tourism, especially hotels, is one of the hardest-hit industries. The statewide lockdown has stifled travel and restricted accommodation for more than three years. Only this year have business and tourism organizations noticed a possible return to pre-pandemic levels.
The amount is estimated based on accommodation tax revenue collected in the last financial year prior to COVID 2018-19, assuming a 3% annual increase had the pandemic not occurred. City staff estimated the total shortfall based on the estimates actually received.
The main hotels identified by town staff are the Tiburon Lodge and the Waters Edge Hotel.
DeAnn Biss, executive director of the Tiburon Chamber of Commerce, said reimbursements represent about half of the organization’s budget. She said the group has 111 members, and while a few businesses pay $500 a year, most small businesses pay $175 a year.
“When I talk about collaboration, my only job and the Chamber’s only job is to connect our local businesses with our communities and our visitors,” she said. “These funds will really help us take it to the next level.”
Destination Tiburon also receives funding through the Tiburon Tourism Business Improvement District, which charges a 2% fee on hotel receipts.
Destination Tiburon earned $181,554 in business improvement district revenue in fiscal 2018-19. These values fell to $127,728 in 2019-20; $84,658 in 2020-21; and $158,142 in 2021-22.
The city council rejected a motion 3-2 to compensate Destination Tiburon’s estimated $207,474 in lost revenue. Councillors Holli Thier and Noah Griffin voted yes, while Councillors Alice Fredericks, Deputy Mayor Jack Ryan and Mayor Jon Welner voted against.
“It’s going to be a way to offset some of the losses with the funds we’ve got for that purpose,” Thiel said. “I’ve seen these individuals and their organizations and how they use the funds, and I think a lot has been done to bring Tiburon to a different level.”
Stephanie Fermin, executive director of Destination Tiburon, said her organization often promotes tourism through marketing and advertising strategies. It has a budget of about $250,000, she said.
“Not taking advantage of this growth in our town would be a missed opportunity,” she said. “As the main outreach for the town’s visitors, Destination Tiburon is just asking to be whole again.”
Ryan noted that Fermin may come back at a later meeting to discuss how to use the additional funds.
The U.S. Relief Program Act, Federal Appropriations for Pandemic Recovery, allocated $2,173,086 to Tiburon.
The town has previously allocated $486,600 for pilot night ferry programs, contributions to county homeless initiatives, contributions to ranch recreation programs and broadband strategic planning.