Lodging Tax Grant Program

Lodging Tax Fund

The City of Renton’s Lodging Tax Fund is the primary source of city funding for activities, operations, and expenditures designed to increase tourism. In addition, the city intends to maintain a reserve in the fund, and will assess on an annual basis how much of the fund to appropriate in a given year.

Renton City Council has created a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee to conduct an annual process to solicit and recommend Lodging Tax funded services for City Council consideration.

The city will only consider proposals for use of the Lodging Tax Fund from public and non-profit agencies. 

Application

  • The deadline to apply for 2023 funding is 4:30 p.m. on October 21, 2022.

Grant Information

The Grants

  • Renton City Council awards the Tourism Promotion Grants.

  • Grants are funded by Washington state’s Hotel-Motel Tax, collected on all in-city lodging stays of less than 30 days in length.

  • The city council has appointed a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) and tasked it with distributing these funds.

  • Grant proposals are reviewed by the committee, composed of council members, lodging owners, and community members appointed by the mayor.

  • The city council takes LTAC’s recommendations under advisement when determining final grant awards.

Established Priority

  • Have a demonstrated potential or high potential from the Committee’s perspective to result in overnight stays by tourists in lodging establishments within the City of Renton.

  • Promote Renton and/or events, activities, and places in the City of Renton to potential tourists from outside our city.

  • Have demonstrated or high potential from the committee’s perspective to result in documented economic benefit to Renton.

  • Have a demonstrated history of success in Renton, or are proposed by a group with a demonstrated history or high potential of success with similar activities.

  • Minimize duplication of services where appropriate and encourage cooperative marketing and/or includes an element of cooperation or partnership.

  • Provide, maintain, operate or enhance city-owned tourism facilities or infrastructure.

  • Involve multi-day events, including athletic events, along with those that promote diversity and inclusivity.

Committee Considerations

In developing its recommendations, the committee considers:
  • The estimated amount of Lodging Tax Funds available for the coming year as provided by the city’s finance office.

  • Thoroughness and completeness of the proposal.

  • Percent of the proposal request to the event/facility promotions budget and overall revenues.

  • Percent of increase over prior year Renton Lodging Tax funded proposals, if any.

  • Projected economic impact within the City of Renton, in particular projected overnight stays in Renton lodging establishments.

  • The applicant’s financial stability.

  • The applicant’s history of tourism promotion success.

  • Committee member general knowledge of the community and tourism-related activities.

Funding Examples

  • Seattle Film Summit

  • KingCon NW

  • Renton Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center operations

  • North American Fashion week

  • 2021 Valley Cities GeoTour

  • Renton River Days

  • Renton Farmers Market

  • Washington Ironman

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the grant program and its funding source?

The primary purpose of the Grant Program is to support tourism related projects and programs through arts/cultural, sporting activities, recreation, heritage or community-based activities. Funds must be used for marketing and promotional purposes only, such as hiring a marketing professional or advertising agency to push your event to audiences 50 miles away or more.

This program is funded through the city share of state tax on lodging rentals (hotels/motels) with program funding and specific grant awards dependent on recommendations of the City Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC).

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 67.28.080 provides authority for cities to adopt a lodging tax. The City of Renton has adopted a 1% lodging tax rate and may invest these revenues into events or programs that attract visitors in and around Renton.

The city's Economic Development Department provides administrative support to the applicant. Please contact the Jessie Kotarski at 425-430-7271 with any questions on the guidelines or for assistance in completing the application.

Who Can Apply?

Nonprofits, including main street organizations, lodging associations, or chamber of commerce are eligible to apply. Municipalities are also eligible to apply such as Arts Commissions, Park Boards, and Planning Commissions.

What minimum event requirements?

Organizations producing events are encouraged to develop two-day festivals where overnight lodging occurs. Creating special marketing packages with hotels in Renton will be given additional consideration.

What is the evaluation process?

  • Projects must take place between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023.

  • Each applicant will define the service, product, event, or activity to be provided and demonstrate how it will enhance visitor development to Renton.

  • A detailed promotional plan on how the event or activity will advertise, publicize, and distribute information related to the project will also be assessed.

What criteria is used to evaluate applications?

Project Impact. How will the City of Renton and/or the citizens be impacted by this project? 25 points

Clarity. Does the proposal clearly and concisely present a definite, well-described product for which the City’s assistance is being sought?

Cost-effectiveness. Does the project propose an efficient, economical use of the City’s funds?

Degree of match. What is the proponent's percentage of matching resource? A match of at least 25% of the total project value (City funds plus sponsor’s share) is required; a higher rate will improve a project's stature accordingly.

Marketing. How will the proposed project be marketed and how will that marketing recognize the City’s participation?
Innovation. Does the project represent an unusual approach, or does it move the City’s Hotel/Motel program in a useful new direction?

Cooperative nature. What kind and degree of inter-organizational or inter-jurisdictional partnership does the project exhibit?

Bonus Points

  • Off-season development. Will the project promote tourism development during the off-season (September 1 through June 30)?

  • Overnight visitorship. Has the project convincingly established that it will attract overnight visitorship? If so, does it quantify the anticipated stays and offer a credible method for corroborating the projections?

What is the selection process?

After applications are submitted to the city, they are reviewed by staff for completeness. Applications returned may be resubmitted for consideration if submittal falls before the deadline. Applications will be evaluated by the LTAC, consisting of one elected official, representatives of businesses required to collect lodging taxes, and members involved in activities potentially eligible to receive lodging tax revenue. The committee's funding recommendations will be forwarded to the City Council for final decision in a public meeting.

Additional Application Information

  • Grant funds are supplied on a reimbursement basis. Projects must first incur costs and then request reimbursement with submittal of the final closeout report as stated in the contract guidelines. Any funds unexpected in the approved timeline for completion of the project will be returned to the Lodging Tax fund for future allocation for grants or other tourism related expenditures.

  • Each grant recipient will be required to enter into contractual agreement with the city. The contract will cover such areas as definition of the project goals, definition of eligible costs, specification of payment procedures, limits of city liability, and other usual and customary requirements. Contracts must be signed prior to event start date. All projects must be executed no later than December 31, 2023, or the grant award is invalidated and returned to the Lodging Tax fund for future allocation for grants and other tourism related expenditures.

  • When the project is complete, applicants will submit a final report detailing outcomes related to budget, activities, objectives, and attendance as first described in the Beneficiary’s application for the Grant.

  • All published materials must include the Visit RentonWA logo, and announcements regarding the project must state: “This project made possible through support of Renton's lodging tax dollars and the City of Renton.”

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