Enumclaw boosts tourism spending

Like cities and town everywhere, Enumclaw aims for ways to pull dollars from tourists. And, like other communities throughout Washington, taxes are levied on room rentals to help fund the endeavor.

This year, two efforts will receive money from the city, each recommended by its Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. During their Feb. 27 meeting, members of the Enumclaw City Council agreed to forward $10,000 to Visit Rainier, a nonprofit group that markets Mount Rainier and surrounding communities with its online presence; an additional $2,500 was authorized for Wild Horse Strategies, an Enumclaw-based firm charged with creating a photography portfolio to be used for marketing purposes by the city and local businesses.

The city typically does not have a great deal of money to dole out, as lodging taxes are collected at just the two hotels in town – the Guesthouse Inn and Cedars Inn. Representatives from both those establishments were present during the Feb. 6 meeting of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, encouraged to offer spending suggestions since they’re the ones collecting the money.

In addition to talking dollars and cents, the owners of both hotels shared a desire to see the annual downtown street fair moved to a different weekend. The street fair traditionally operates the same days as the Scottish Highland Games and it was noted the two hotels do not have enough rooms to support two large events simultaneously.

A tax on lodging is allowed by state law, provided the collections are used solely to promote tourism.

In other business during their Feb. 27 meeting, members of the Enumclaw City Council:

• approved a plan to subdivide nearly 10 acres of land into 24 lots, all sitting just east of 244th Avenue Southeast and north of Rainier Trails Park. Tentative approval has been on the city books since spring 2015.

The preliminary plat for a second phase of the project, consisting of 20 lots on 5.4 acres, was approved by the City Council in October 2016.

The project applicant is Carl Sanders Construction.

• authorized a lease agreement with the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce, which occupies a portion of the city-owned building at 1421 Cole St. The agreement notes an appropriate rent would be $9,000 annually, plus a state-imposed leasehold tax. The city, however, provides a $6,000 annual subsidy to the nonprofit organization, leaving the chamber with an annual bill of $4,155.

• appointed Joel Nunn to the city’s Human Services Advisory Board, filling a term that expires with the close of 2019.