COPPERAS COVE — The City Council removed every member of an ad hoc advisory committee Tuesday — while it waits to dissolve the committee — without discussing the action with its members.
By a split vote of 5 to 2, with Councilmen Danny Palmer and Kenn Smith voting against the action, the council removed every member of the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee.
Smith, who brought the issue before the council, questioned whether the committee was serving its purpose and if it should continue to be an ad hoc committee.
The committee is supposed to review applications for hotel funds, develop and submit options about those applications, make recommendations about agreements with organizations that receive funds, and determine how those entities will report the use of the tax dollars to the council.
“You have people going in all sort of directions,” said Councilman Mark Peterson, who made the motion to remove the committee members from their positions.
Peterson said members of the committee were calling hotels to ask for occupancy rates and taking other actions that were out of their scope of purpose.
Smith was in favor of letting the committee function until the end of the year, he said.
Former committee member Marty Smith said that during previous years of the committee, which was created in November 2009, mostly one organization requested funds from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee.
That group is Communities Helping Americans Mature, Progress and Succeed (CHAMPS), which conducts the Heart of Texas Bowl and the Texas Music Jam.
Also receiving funds from the tax, which is meant to be spent on attracting tourists to the city, is the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.
Smith, who is also the former Chamber president, said the council always allocates money to the chamber and then the tax committee helps determine where the rest of the funds go.
“In my opinion the committee isn’t needed because there is only one organization that makes requests,” Smith said.
Azeita Taylor, another member removed from the committee, also said she agreed with the council’s decision, citing the fact that no one is asking to spend the money. “What I would like to see happen is that the funds that are not allocated to the Chamber go back to the community,” Taylor said.
Outside organizations should apply to use the funds, she said, such as the Copperas Cove Country Opry, which has disbanded.
According to the city’s 2012-13 fiscal year budget, revenues from the tax were projected at about $198,000 and expenses at about $155,000. The Chamber received $95,000 and CHAMPS received $25,000.