City funds visitor organization

 

Last updated 9/20/2022 at Noon



Explore Sisters will provide destination management services for Sisters — their mission being to support and lead tourism promotion, development, and stewardship. A contract approved by the Sisters City Council formalized the allocation of $350,000 of transient lodging tax (TLT) funds for tourism promotion and destination management services. Each year, the City will compensate Explore Sisters with a portion of the TLTs that the City assesses pursuant to Oregon State law and local ordinance.

That action was one of several contracts signed off on at the September 14 City Council meeting, involving expenditures of $475,000, all included in the 2022/23 budget.

Council also approved an agreement with Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) for economic development services in the amount of $40,020, with Deschutes County providing an additional $36,225. The contract is for nine months, the remainder of FY 2022-23.

Eric Strobel, the EDCO manager for Sisters, plans to do some private fundraising, which has proven a key component of successful local EDCO programs in other Central Oregon communities. His main job is to attract new traded-sector businesses to Sisters and support those already here. He is also available to assist local businesses. At the end of the contract, the City will assess the program’s success.

Council approved $85,000 for an agreement with the University of Oregon for their Sustainable City Year Program during school year 2022/23 (see sidebar). The Sisters School District (SSD) and Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) have joined in and will benefit from the program, while reimbursing the City $15,000 for the fall classes.

Upper-level and graduate students will work on actual City, SSD, and SPRD projects and plans related to their coursework on campus. Fall quarter there will be three graduate-level classes addressing planning issues. They will be working mainly with the school district on how to repurpose the current elementary school and administration building. A fourth graduate-level class (Public Budgeting) will explore topics to be confirmed by the City and faculty but may include funding options for affordable housing in Sisters.

The students will come to Sisters in October to get a feeling for the community, gain background information, and learn about the goals of the participating entities. November 22 is the date scheduled for their final presentations for fall term. The City, SSD, and SPRD will receive all their data, reports, and final presentations to be used as appropriate.

Consideration of the specific classes for winter (which begin January 9, 2023), and spring classes (begin April 3, 2023) is ongoing and yet to be determined, but could include supporting the newly formed destination management organization (Explore Sisters), public information, bicycle planning, or diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

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