Council approves Visit LaGrange budget

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

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During the LaGrange City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the city approved the annual budget for Visit LaGrange.

Visit LaGrange serves as the city’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), which spends a portion of hotel/motel taxes to market local tourism.

The hotel/motel tax is an 8% tax on room rentals. Of the 8%, 3.5 percent goes to the DMO for tourism marketing.

According to budget documents, the hotel/motel tax has seen tremendous growth in recent years thanks to, in part, the development of the Great Wolf Lodge.

The revenues from the tax saw a 6% growth from 2022 to 2023 ($466,00 over budget).

The city is hoping the trend will continue, however, City Manager Meg Kelsey conservatively budgeted flat to no growth for FY2024.

Visit LaGrange President Kathy Tilley went over the proposed budget during the council’s work session and broke down how the DMO plans to spend the city’s advertising dollars.

The majority of Visit LaGrange’s roughly $1.1 million budget will be dedicated directly to marketing expenses.

Tilley said administrative expenses are $259,200, which includes salaries, wages, healthcare benefits, along with auditor fees, liability insurance, office supplies and other miscellaneous expenses.

Media content/advertising buys make up the vast majority of Visit LaGrange’s marketing budget at $550,000 (77%).

PR/promotions/merchandise/printing are budgeted at $124,000 (16%).

“We had digital advertising and print advertising, but we didn’t have any PR so we added that last year,” Tilley said.

Production is earmarked for $82,000 (11%), which includes ad production, design and video creation. The funds are used for basically all ads that people see, Tilley said.

And finally, the last fund was described as the cost of business at $26,000 (3%). This fund includes event recruitment, Tilley said.

“We sometimes pay events to come here, especially if they are multi-day events and will require an overnight stay. We sponsor those events to try to get them to come to LaGrange,” Tilley said.

Tilley noted they also help sponsor local events that bring people into LaGrange like the recent Downtown Artisans Market.

The council unanimously approved the Visit LaGrange budget.

Council approves Visit LaGrange budget