Commissioners dole out lodging tax funds

Island County commissioners awarded $700,000 to nonprofit organizations that boost tourism.

Island County commissioners awarded $700,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations that boost tourism.

The lodging tax fund, also known as 2% funds, come from a tax on stays at hotels, motels, Airbnbs, RV parks and other lodging accommodations. The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee looked through requests from different organizations and made recommendation on funding amounts.

This year, the committee made 34 recommendations. All of the recommended amounts were close to the amount requests except for the one from the Greater Freeland Chamber of Commerce. The chamber requested $83,240 for a visitor’s center, special events and a campaign to encourage holiday gatherings.

The committee, however, only recommended $40,000. As a result, the request is on hold until the chamber makes a presentation to the commissioners, who can change the amount through a roundabout process.

The other awards to Whidbey organizations are as follows:

• Clinton Chamber of Commerce was awarded $22,654 for “Visit Clinton Washington,” an effort to increase the community’s visibility beyond the ferry terminal.

• Coupeville Chamber of Commerce was awarded $68,566 for a visitor information center.

• Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association was awarded $10,500 for a Musselfest 2024 tourism promotion.

• Craig McKenzie Team Foundation was awarded $28,500 for Hydros for Heroes.

• Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve was awarded $14,500 for a visitor center and trail map re-print.

• Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce was awarded $34,500 for a “one-of-a-kind multi-platform marketing campaign.”

• Island County Fair Association was awarded $39,500 for the Whidbey Island Fair.

• Island County Historical Museum was awarded $31,500 for museum operations.

• Island Shakespeare Festival was awarded $19,500 for the festival.

• Langley Chamber of Commerce was awarded $57,135 for a visitor center, Highway 525 kiosk and a rest stop facility.

• Langley Creates was awarded $9,800 for Blackfish Whidbey Island, a celebration of indigenous people. The group was also awarded $24,000 for a Cascade Connector outdoor cultural museum.

• Meerkerk Gardens was awarded $17,200 for a marketing plan.

• The city of Oak Harbor was awarded $14,500 for the Whidbey Island Marathon.

• Oak Harbor Main Street Organization was awarded $6,200 for general and event planning.

• Oak Harbor Music Festival was awarded $30,000 for the festival.

• Pacific Northwest Art School was awarded $15,500 for marketing for the school.

• Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum was awarded $23,400 for operations.

• Penn Cove Water Festival was awarded $3,500 for the festival.

• Price Sculpture Forest was awarded $8,500 for a sculptured dance happening.

• Sound Water Stewards of Island County were awarded $2,527 for the Sound Waters University.

• South Whidbey Historical Society was awarded $7,200 for operations and tourism events.

• Whidbey Island Arts Council was awarded $7,000.

• Whidbey Island Center for the Arts was awarded $39,500 for tourism operations.

• Whidbey Island Grown Co-op was awarded $12,000 for Eat Local Month.

In addition to the Whidbey organizations, People of Confluence was awarded $34,500 for a Snohomish oral history of Island County and the Cascade Loop National Scenic Byway Association was awarded $10,125 for marketing.

Camano Island organizations will receive more than $100,000 for an art tour, an art festival, a cider fest, the Great Northwest Glass Quest and visitor kiosks.