To the Editor:
Stratford Stride has been fortunate to receive grants in 2011 and 2012 from the Hamilton County hotel/motel tax program. In 2011, we were awarded a $1,000 grant to assist in the renovation of the city park bathrooms, and in 2012, our $500 grant helped promote the annual Bluegrass Festival. Without the grant funds, our projects would have been held back. The money really helped complete the park project and advertise more broadly for our festival.
Annually the Bluegrass Festival brings in hundreds of visitors to the county. While approximately 20 families camp at the city park, most of the attendees and bands stay in area motels. Since the reach of the festival extends beyond Iowa's borders and many of the bands that perform in the festival come from around the Midwest and farther the event greatly enhances the county's ability to put "heads in beds."
The hotel/motel tax in the unincorporated areas of Hamilton County will expire at the end of the year; the issue will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. This 5 percent tax is paid by the people who stay in the hotels, bed and breakfast or camping cabins at Briggs Woods Park not by Hamilton County residents. Our local leaders are using this annual revenue of approximately $14,000 to improve our attractions and bring more visitors to our hotels.
I would encourage you to vote "yes" on Nov. 6. Renew the hotel/motel tax and help Hamilton County businesses.