Marietta unveils $1.1 million reccomended tourism grant awards

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May 31—Marietta City Council members unveiled their recommendations for doling out $1.1 million in tourism grants at its recent committee meeting.

The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee, consisting of Michelle Cooper Kelly, Andy Morris and Reggie Copeland, voted unanimously to approve the recommended awards. A final vote by the full council is slated for the June 9 meeting.

Museums, performance venues and nonprofits that sponsor festivals outlined their requests at a May 20 council meeting before the committee worked to come up with recommendations.

The grants, doled out annually to promote tourism in the city, are funded by a 3% auto rental tax that is projected to bring in $607,200 in fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1. The city's 8% hotel/motel tax funds the Marietta Visitors Bureau and is projected to bring in $318,796 for the bureau.

Kelly, the committee's chair, prefaced the recommendations by saying the budgets for those two taxes were "significantly lower" than pre-pandemic figures.

"There are no winners and losers," she said. "Everyone, I think you'll realize, had to take a reduction. But considering all, there's money that's available and we're happy to allocate."

The largest recommended award is for city staff, which would receive $191,000, just $971 short of the amount requested. Those funds are used to staff city festivals such as Chalktoberfest, Streetfest, Taste of Marietta, and the Fourth of July celebration.

Every awardee except for city staff and the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum is slated to receive less funding than in fiscal 2020, the last budget year to be unaffected by the pandemic. Many are slated to see an increase over last year's (fiscal 2021) grant amounts.

The second largest recommended award is for Marietta Museum of History, whose request for $160,000 was matched by the committee.

Other grants will be less than half of what was requested. The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art requested $125,000 from the city, but the committee is recommending an award of $60,000.

The only change at the committee meeting came at the request of Morris, who wanted the Marietta Educational Gardens to receive its full $5,000 request instead of the $2,000 the committee recommended. He proposed cutting the allocation to The Earl Smith Strand Theatre to offset the increased award. But Mayor Steve Tumlin said that, having listened to budget presentations from city staff, he was feeling "more optimistic" about the auto rental tax revenue, and proposed increasing the award for the gardens without cutting the award for the Strand. The committee agreed, so the total allocation was increased from $607,000 to $610,000.

A complete list of the organizations and the recommended awards are as follows:

—Funding for Art in the Park is included in the $191,000 city staff award

A breakdown of the hotel/motel tax is below:

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