SHELDON—Visitors must think Sheldon is a really nice place because the community has broken its record for hotel/tax revenue for the third year in a row.
According to the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation, Sheldon collected $153,523.79 in hotel/motel tax revenue, narrowly edging out last year’s record of $150,324.02.
SCDC community development director Curt Strouth continues to be impressed by Sheldon’s growth in this area, particularly after a slow start to the fiscal year.
“After the first two quarters of 2019, we were behind a little bit from our record-breaking year of 2018, which it wasn’t a concern of ours at all because 2018 was already a record and we knew we kept setting that bar pretty high,” he said. “So keeping on pace with a record year is always good too.”
In the fourth quarter, Sheldon collected $46,968.46, which was about a $3,300 increase from last year’s fourth-quarter total.
The fourth quarter takes place over the summer, a popular time for weddings in the area and when the annual RiseFest Christian music festival takes place in Sheldon.
“That’s going to project us into 2020 very nicely,” Strouth said. “As you know, an increase in hotel/motel tax revenue is a sign of increased tourism in your community, increased sign of people staying and doing business here and more and more rooms on an annual basis being occupied. That’s all a win for us.”
Strouth credits the construction of Crossroads Pavilion as one of the biggest reasons for Sheldon’s growth in tourism. The $5.3 million event center opened in September 2017 and hosted 39 events that year.
That increased to 118 in 2018, the Pavilion’s first full year of operation and as of mid-November, 148 events were booked and paid for this year. Another 63 events are scheduled for 2020.
Strouth noted the hotel/motel tax revenue numbers show the Pavilion is being used.
“That shows us that more and more people are using the event center and in turn are also commercing our community through fuel and lodging,” he said. “As we built and went through the construction process of planning that facility, those were all things we knew would happen; they were just not measurable at the time.”
Strouth said the Pavilion was an investment by the community and he thinks two years of broken hotel/motel tax revenue records show that it was a wise decision.
“It’s an amenity that we know will help draw people to our community and give us a face and that’s exactly what it’s doing,” Strouth said.
At least 50 percent of dollars generated by the hotel/motel tax have to be spent on the “purchase, construction, improving, maintaining, operating of recreation, convention, cultural or entertainment facilities or for the promotion and encouragement of tourist-type business in the city and surrounding areas,” according to Iowa Code.
The remaining amount may be spent by the city for “any regular operations authorized by law and for a proper purpose.” In Sheldon, 3 percent of the revenues go to the city and 4 percent goes to the SCDC’s marketing committee.
Hotel/motel tax dollars have been used to support Celebration Days, RiseFest, the Sheldon Civic Music Association, Sheldon’s welcome signs and other events as well as other items.
“We really help fund and support all those tourist events that help bring people to our community because, in turn, we know they help people spend money locally and support our economy so it’s a good return on our investment on these dollars,” Strouth said.