Stillwater News Press

February 3, 2013

Stillwater Convention and Visitors Bureau to ask for budget amendment

By Chris Day
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Stillwater Convention and Visitors Bureau wants more championship games, annual events and advertising and marketing projects, Executive Director Cristy Morrison said.

The city department will ask city councilors Monday to let it amend its budget. The Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded entirely through the city’s hotel occupancy tax. It doesn’t receive any money from the city’s general fund.

The budget amendment will add $30,000 to an incentive fund that may be used to develop museums and other attractions. It will create a $40,000 contingency fund, which would be available if any of the hotels/motels in Stillwater closed abruptly, reducing the flow of hotel occupancy tax money to the department.

The department also plans new signs at its location on West Sixth Avenue. The sign will include a scrolling message board, Morrison said.

It has identified a need for a full-time sales and marketing position,  according to a report submitted to the City Council.

The hotel occupancy tax revenue is $57,000 higher than estimated. It and unallocated money in the department’s budget would be used to offset any additional costs, Morrison said.

The Stillwater Convention and Visitors Bureau Board approved the budget revisions at its Jan. 23 meeting. The changes are needed to meet Board goals, Morrison said.

“We have developed an aggressive plan that best utilizes the hotel occupancy tax,” Morrison said.

The six high school football championships have been held in Stillwater — either at Oklahoma State University’s Boone Pickens Stadium or Stillwater High School’s Pioneer Stadium — for several seasons.

Stillwater wants to be branded as the city in which “Championships are Won,” Morrison said.

The budget revisions will allow the Convention and Visitors Bureau to pursue championships in other fall, winter and spring sports, Morrison said. It also will allow it to pursue academic championships, including music and the Academic Bowl.

The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association seeks bids on these championships annually, she said.

The revisions also will allow the department to expand its high school and college marketing plans as well as its advertising to niche publications for families, bicyclists, motorcyclists and recreational sporting enthusiasts, she said.

More and more bicycling and motorcycling events and car shows are being held in Stillwater, Morrison said. Stillwater needs to advertise in publications that will reach those people.

Visitors are important to Stillwater because they spend money here, she said. Those expenditures generate sales-tax revenue that helps finance city government, she said.