Roving Reporter | "H.O.T. Taxes: What Are They and Where do They Go?" by Jeanette Larson

City Council Agenda, June 6, 2017
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I have to admit that my mind tends to wanders a bit when I hear about H.O.T. taxes. That is actually a bit redundant since H.O.T. stands for Hotel Occupancy Tax. But what are they? These are the funds from taxes visitors and guests to our community pay when they stay at hotels, motels, and other short-term rentals like bed and breakfast locations, condominiums, or homes that are rented for stays of less than thirty days. Some of the tax goes to the state and county and some comes to the city or town where the tax was collected. Rockport assesses 7% for the hotel occupancy tax.

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Funds allocated to the City of Rockport, the Town of Fulton, and Aransas County go to local organizations to promote tourism and encourage visitors to stay in the area overnight. Local arts and cultural groups will make presentations at a special Council meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 1:30pm in City Hall, 622 E. Market St. The public is welcome to come to the meeting to hear the various ways H.O.T. money would be used in 2018.

Requests range from $2,000 to $400,000 for a total request of $714,000 from the City of Rockport. A few examples of requests include The Aransas County Council on Aging asking for $2,000 for a single activity, Bountiful Bowl/Clay Expo, which attracts "1,000 attendees and 35+ potters." (Pictured below)

The Rockport Center for the Arts is requesting $128,250 to help with promotion of a variety of programs and events, including the 48th Annual Rockport Art Festival, Tour of Homes, and various exhibitions throughout the year.

The highest request comes from the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, which is requesting $400,000 for marketing in order to promote Rockport as a tourist/visitor destination, the HummerBird Celebration, Seafair, and the 9/11 Memorial Mobile Exhibit.

The newly organized Rockport Cultural Arts District (sometimes referred to as "C.A.D.") is making their first request.  $58,250 would be used to fund staffing, promotion and events, like a "Culinary Art Walk and Performing Arts Offerings," in the Rockport Cultural Arts District, an area that encompasses "the unique cultural offerings within a concentrated walkable area."

Potential uses for H.O.T. funds include funding for visitor centers, sports facilities, and historic programs and services. By state law, no more than 15% of the collected taxes can be designated to go to arts organizations. Some H.O.T. funds are also designated to be saved for use after a major storm or other event which may reduce tourism in the area.

Information about each organization's request, as well as budget and supporting documentation to show past successes in attracting tourism to Rockport are online at


Jeanette Larson is a retired librarian and author. She and her husband, retired architect and artist Jim Larson, moved to Rockport several years ago for the birds, the beach, and the coastal community.

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