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Prussing: Figures Show Tourism Subsidy Wasn’t Needed

By Jeff Bossert

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing says she has the numbers to prove the withdrawal of funding to the county’s tourism agency was worth it.

Figures prepared for the Urbana City Council Monday show Urbana’s hotel-motel tax receipts for fiscal year 2011-2012 grew 35.6-percent from the previous fiscal year, while Champaign’s hotel-motel tax revenues went up 9.6-percent in the same period.

In October of 2011, the Urbana City Council also raised the city’s hotel-motel tax from 5 to 6-percent.

But figures prepared without that increase show Urbana hotel-motel tax revenues still went up 18-percent in FY 2011-12.

Prussing says this proves her July 2011 veto of funding to the Champaign County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau did not t have an adverse effect on Urbana’s hotels.

The city council that month failed to override Prussing’s veto of a $72,000 subsidy for the CVB on a 4 to 3 vote.  The mayor credits better marketing at the hotels themselves for the increased tax revenue in the fiscal year that followed.

“Cause I know that Holiday Inn was hiring a marketing person,” she said.  “So I haven’t looked to see which hotels are doing is, so obviously the hotels are doing something good.

Prussing said that she decided to end city funding of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, because she didn’t think their efforts were helping the city or its hotels and motels.

“We are doing some marketing now, but that didn’t start until this summer”, said Prussing. “This growth was before our marketing person came on board.”

Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Jayne DeLuce did not return a call Monday seeking comment.