SOUTH FORK—Town Administrator Dan Hicks opened a discussion pertaining to the tourism board during the Oct. 24 meeting of the town of South Fork. Hicks began by stating that he has spent some time investigating how the tourism board works and gave a brief history of its creation.
According to Hicks, the Colorado State legislature passed a lodging tax in 1975 and the Rio Grande Tourism Board (RGTB) has been in existence since the mid-1980s. Hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals in Colorado collect a 1.9 percent lodging tax and forward the tax collected to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue sorts these funds and then distributes the tax collected to the county where they were collected. The Department of Revenue does not disclose the detailed source location of the tax collected due to confidentiality laws.
As part of Hicks’ research, he discovered that the Rio Grande Tourism Board reports to the Rio Grande County Commissioners. Hicks visited with Rio Grande County Administrator Roni Wisdom who explained that the board operates under bylaws established in 2013. Wisdom further explained that the tourism board distributes funds through an established grant request process and designates budgeted distribution amounts for the different areas and towns within the county.
Hicks explained that the Rio Grande County Tourism Board has a 2017 budget to receive revenues from the lodging tax in the amount of $115,000 and plans to distribute a total of $131,750. Within this budget, the South Fork area is budgeted to receive $20,000. To team decided to use the funds, but we were invited by the athletic director to discuss their options. I imagine they would use it for new uniforms or equipment they need,” explained Tucker. “We want to elevate Del Norte in any way we can. We want to fund programs that are youth-based and ones that focus on the school.”
The foundation is under the umbrella of the Southern Colorado Community Foundation who helps small foundations handle tax documents and where to invest money throughout smaller Colorado communities. According to the website, Southern Colorado Community Foundation (SCCF) is a family of funds (50+) created by individuals, businesses and organizations that care deeply about the communities of southern Colorado. The collective power of these funds represents the interests of individuals, families and groups of citizens allied in a particular cause and provides multiple opportunities for philanthropy.
“Being under the umbrella of SCCF is a great thing. They handle all of the paperwork and we get to help communities like Del Norte without all of the hassle. It’s an easier way for small organizations like us to form and help the rural communities,” explained Tucker.
Now that the football season is over, the foundation is looking for other organizations or projects in the Del Norte area to fund. They will be working to create an outdoor recreational program for area youth at the beginning of next year in order to offer summer activities in the area.