There's concern within the Chelan County government about the cost of owning and operating Ohme Gardens. 

County Commissioner Tiffany Gering told her fellow commissioners at a public meeting this week that she’s been discussing with county staff how the outdoor attraction is a problem because it’s been a money loser for the county for many years. 

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Gering said commissioners need to decide the future of Ohme Gardens before the next county budget is finalized. 

"We do see it as a community asset but is it worth x amount of dollars that we dump into it every year?" said Gering. "Is it something that we consider remitting back to the state?" 

The state previously owned Ohme Gardens and handed the property over to the county in the mid-2000s with the understanding it would be operated as a park. 

Ohme Gardens was developed as a wooded oasis by the Ohme family dating back to 1929 and was sold to the state in 1991. 

Ownership was handed over to the county with the hope that there would be easier access to capital dollars to make improvements to the property. 

The hillside gardens, panoramic views and towering cedar and fir trees of Ohme Gardens are highly regarded in the region, but it continues to lose money according to the county. 

Gering said previous ideas to boost foot traffic at Ohme Gardens have not panned out. 

"We've looked at lots of different options, like can we have an events center up there, can we do a restaurant," Gering said. "How can we make this a money maker? And we haven't had a lot of luck because of the zoning." 

Gering said the discussion about the overall future of Ohme Gardens grew out of conversations inside the Chelan County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee that she chairs. 

Ohme Gardens is among several groups and six local chambers which split half of the lodging tax money collected in the county each year. 

Gering said most of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee members don’t think Ohme Gardens should be receiving lodging tax money. 

She told her fellow commissioners she would be putting together a presentation that would include numbers showing the financial condition of the property. 

Lodging tax money collected by local hotels and lodging establishments is awarded to nonprofit groups and organizations twice a year and can total as much as $400,000 in each round. 

One round of lodging tax dollars is for marketing and events while the other round is for capital construction and building projects. 

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