Chelan County will be doling out more than half a million dollars to public groups for use on building projects.

The money comes through lodging taxes the county collects from local hotels and lodging establishments.

County Commissioner Tiffany Gering says the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee will choose which of this year's 15 applicants will receive funding.

"Sometimes the committee has additional questions, and they will invite applicants in to be able to have that dialogue," said Gering. "Other times the decisions are made, and then recommended to this board (county commissioners) for approval and funding."

Gering discussed the funding process with follow commissioners Monday morning during a public meeting.

Among last year's recipients of lodging tax funding was Pybus Public Market, which used the money to help create a year-round space for the Wenatchee Valley Farmer's Market.

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee also has much more money in reserve. According to Gering, the reserve now totals about $3.4 million and has continued to grow over time.

"The Lodging Tax Committee is just looking at, 'Do we want to keep a certain amount,'" said Gering. '"If we do, what can we use that on. Or do we want to put it toward one big project.'"

There's been consideration on using the reserve money on big projects such as pedestrian, bike and scooter pathways, and on sports fields.

Some of the reserve last year was used to increase funding for the lodging tax funding already in place. The original $560,000 was increased to $710,500.

The fifteen applicants who’ve applied for funding this year have not yet been revealed. The deadline to file an application was last Friday.

The money is required to be used for capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities.

The projects must promote both increased tourism and convention activity in Chelan County and overnight stays and/or increases retail sales in unincorporated Chelan County.

About half the lodging tax money generated for the county in a year is sent to six local chambers as well as the Cascade Loop, Ohme Gardens and TREAD, a nonprofit that promotes outdoor recreation.

Another portion is used to operate the county’s Visit Chelan County campaign.

The remaining money is offered annually in the form of grants to tourist-related organizations. In December, commissioners approved the awarding of $328,600 in lodging tax dollars to 22 tourist-related organizations for marketing efforts.

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