Washington County Commissioners voted to allocate hotel occupancy tax (HOT) grant funding for the spring 2023 funding cycle at their meeting today (Tuesday).
Commissioners awarded $27,100 out of $39,610 in total HOT fund requests to four local tourism organizations. The recipients are the Chappell Hill Chamber of Commerce, Chappell Hill Historical Society, Unity Theatre and Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Individually, the largest funding amount went to Washington-on-the-Brazos for its Texas Independence Day celebration at $14,840. The Chappell Hill Chamber of Commerce will receive $4,300 for the Chappell Hill Art Walk and its Wine & Chocolate Tasting event. The Chappell Hill Historical Society will get $4,000 for the Bluebonnet Festival. Unity Theatre was allotted $3,960 for its 2022-23 season of performances.
The typical amount distributed per cycle falls around $25,000. Commissioner Kirk Hanath said $2,100 was left from the last funding cycle to put toward this one.
Hanath explained that a grant eligibility committee looks over documents in the grant funding requests to make sure they fit within the parameters of the grant. A funding committee then reviews the requests and makes recommendations to commissioners on what the applicants should receive.
Also at today’s meeting, the court rescinded their awarding of a contract to Shellback Construction of Brenham for a perimeter security fence at the Washington County Jail. Commissioners approved Shellback’s bid of $278,986, to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act funds, at their meeting on November 29th.
County Judge John Durrenberger called this “essentially buyer remorse” and said that after further thought, the county was not able to afford a fence for that amount of money. He stressed that Shellback bears no fault in the court’s decision, saying, “You all have not done anything to tarnish your reputation.”
Commissioner Joy Fuchs voted against rescinding the contract, saying the court should have done a better job of researching before awarding a contract and getting to this point. Commissioner Candice Bullock abstained from the vote, saying she was waiting to speak with an attorney on the matter.
In addition, commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the City of Brenham and the county concerning the county’s overpayment of expenses related to Linda Anderson Park. An interlocal agreement for maintenance and operation of the park had the county paying $70,000 spread out across 24 monthly payments of $2,916 from December 2014 to December 2016, but neither the city nor the county acknowledged that the agreement ended until this year. As a result, the county made 63 extra payments totaling $183,750 in overpayment. To rectify this, the city will make annual payments of $36,750 to the county for the next five years, starting on January 31, 2023. The county will not charge interest or fees related to the overpayment.
In other action, the court approved:
- Two invoices payable to Faith Mission Community Services related to the COVID-19 operation of the Washington County Disaster Service Center during 2021. The two invoices total $198,974. Washington County will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- The purchase of election voting equipment using available grant funds.
- The purchase of a Ford F-450 ambulance prep package chassis for the Fiscal Year 2023 ambulance remount, using $47,756 in CARES funding.
- The transfer of collections for Special Inventory Tax/Vehicle Inventory Tax from the Washington County Tax Office to the consolidated tax collections of the county beginning in January 2023.
- The acceptance and addition of Chappell Creek Lane, 0.211 miles located in the Chappell Creek subdivision, to the county road system.
- The acceptance and addition of Chappell Grove Lane, 0.232 located in the Chappell Grove subdivision, to the county road system.