By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
PITTSFIELD, Ill. -- The Pike County Board has appointed six people to a seven-member advisory board overseeing funds generated by a new accommodations tax.
Serving on the advisory board will be board members Dan Mefford and Tami Webel, Jonas Petty with the William Watson Hotel, Jessica Funk with Green Acres Motel, Gary Harpole with Heartland Lodge and Gina Sheurman, executive director of the Pike County Economic Development Corp.
County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman said the remaining advisory board member, the owner of a small lodge or an outfitter, will be appointed at a later date.
The County Board in February approved the 4 percent tax that is expected to generate $40,000 per year to fund new efforts to bring overnight guests to the county.
Sheurman said the first reporting period will be April 1-June 30, with the first payment due in July.
The advisory board will begin meeting soon to review the grant application to fund projects and advertising/marketing efforts.
The county looked at the idea of an accommodations tax several times, with discussions held in 1999, 2004, 2006 and 2011. This year's effort called for establishing the advisory board, with four lodging establishment owners as members, to monitor how the funds are spent and a prohibition on using the funds for salary or personnel costs.
Board members debated the tax amount and added a five-year sunset to force another look at the tax in the future.
Sheurman sees the new tax as a way to build on the county's tourism efforts and "put money back in the lodging owners' hands" to generate more business.
Individuals, agencies, groups, businesses or nonprofit organizations may seek funding for projects that have a beneficial impact on Pike County; develop or expand tourism programs or facilities; build partnerships and cooperative efforts among tourism providers; and enhance and initiate efforts to attract visitors.
Only four counties statewide, including Brown and Calhoun, don't have an accommodations tax, often known as hotel/motel tax.