On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Uvalde County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to adopt an agreement proposed by Texas Hill Country River Region, Inc. that would direct 99 percent of gross hotel occupancy taxes collected by the County to THCRR to be used for the promotion of tourism and river cleanup efforts.
THCRR is almost entirely funded by the 4-percent hotel occupancy tax that visitors pay when they stay in overnight rentals outside of the Uvalde city limits but within Uvalde County.
In previous years, and the most recent agreement term being Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2019, THCRR has had an agreement to manage 74 percent of these collections to promote tourism to the Hill Country River Region.
THCRR has additionally managed a river cleanup program the past three years, through a reimbursement process, from a portion of the 25 percent that the county keeps for river cleanup purposes. By statute, Uvalde County HOT is split in its allowable uses – 75 percent for promotion of tourism and 25 percent for river cleanup efforts.
Recently, a change made to the county’s 2018-2019 budget prompted Texas Hill Country River Region to propose an amended agreement to the Uvalde County Commissioners’ Court to address the change and negotiate continued funding through the remainder of the original term.
“The county adopted a new budget on Aug. 13 of this year for 2018-19 that separated the HOT fund into two accounts in order to better reflect the statutory breakdown of allowable HOT uses – tourism, 75 percent and river cleanup, 25 percent,” said Annabell McNew, THCRR executive director. “However, this change effectively altered the way the funding for THCRR is calculated, and we’ve been working together to rectify the situation and ensure the tax dollars are being spent with the highest level of care by both the county and THCRR.
“The local tourism industry is a strong economic driver in our community, bringing in over $83 million in visitor spending in 2017 to Uvalde County,” McNew said. “These dollars spent on tourism-related purchases, provided a great tax relief to the local county taxpayers of approximately $787 per household last year.
“THCRR’s programs have also provided value for local lodging companies and other attractions and businesses that rely on, and contribute to the growth of the local tourism industry,” McNew continued. “We are looking forward to continuing and expanding our successful programs, as we promote Uvalde County and the Texas Hill Country River Region as a year-round vacation destination.”
The adoption of the amended agreement will give THCRR the opportunity to continue with the 74 percent of tax funding for tourism promotion, as well as expand on river cleanup efforts.