With some reluctance, South Whidbey kiosk gets funding

The Island County Board of Commissioners Wednesday approved a funding request to keep the South Whidbey Highway 525 visitor kiosk open, although it was to the frustration of two commissioners.

“I’m going to do it because I don’t want to be a jerk about it,” Commissioner Jill John-son said.

Johnson and Commiss-ioner Rick Hannold said if something is considered a high priority, organizations should budget for them appropriately.

The request came from the Langley and Freeland chambers of commerce after the commissioners awarded tourism sales tax funds Tuesday.

Neither chamber was given the full amount they applied for.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, who serves on the the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, said each award cycle comes with difficult decisions because more funds are asked for than are available.

Johnson and Hannold worried that a precedent would be set for organizations that don’t receive as much as they applied for.

“I see this as a short-term, one-time expense,” said Price Johnson.

Inge Morascini, executive director of the Langley chamber, said she’s grateful the commissioners saw fit to save the kiosk.

However, she wondered where the chamber would be able to continue to get funds to keep it operating beyond 2019.

The nonprofit previously shared the costs with the Freeland chamber. After Freeland’s application wasn’t fully funded, the chamber’s board voted to end its contributions.

Langley agreed to pick up the slack, but it was also awarded less than applied for.

Commissioners agreed Wednesday to give the Langley chamber $5,000 to supplement the kiosks’ funding through the end of next year.

Johnson said the tourism funds are meant for specific efforts to increase tourism on the island.

“This is not life support for the business community,” she said.

“This is tourism marketing money, so I need everybody to get it together down there … It is out of control the amount of money we’re pumping down there to just sustain chambers.”

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