San Juan County Council approves lodging tax grants

Staff report

The San Juan County Council approved almost $165,000 less in lodging tax awards for 2019 than the year before.

The revenue from the state lodging tax is awarded to county organizations to draw tourists to the islands. Consumers are charged the tax when they stay at local, short-term lodging, like hotels.

A total of $950,875 was awarded to 26 local organizations at the Oct. 16 county council meeting in a 2-1 vote. Council chairman Bill Watson voted against approving the grants. Last year, 32 organizations were awarded a total of $1,116,299.

The funds promote tourist facilities, like historic museums, and promotions that attract tourists to events, like festivals. For 2019, facility funds totaled $828,675 and promotion funds were $122,200. About $420,000 less was awarded compared to what applicants requested.

Three applicants did not receive any funds: the San Juan County Master Gardener Foundation, Orca Protection and Rescue, and the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau website.

The following was approved:

• Friday Harbor Film Festival, $8,500.

• Friends of the San Juans Maritime History Initiative, $8,500.

• Glenwood Springs Hatchery, $9,000.

• Island Stage Left, $5,200.

• Keepers of the Patos Light, $5,000.

• Kwiaht’s Indian Island Interpretive Services, $2,000.

• County land bank and terrestrial manager group’s visitor study, $76,000.

• Lime Kiln Point State Park, $5,000.

• Lopez Center for the Arts for chairs and racks, $20,000.

• Lopez Island Grange, $12,500.

• Museums on Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, $101,475.

• Orcas Center for lighting, $20,000.

• Orcas Island Community Foundation, landscape, $7,600.

• Orcas Island Lit Fest, $10,000.

• Orcas Open Arts Imagine Convergence, $10,000.

• Orcas Open Arts Orcas Anthology, $12,500.

• Orcas Open Arts Orcas Film Festival, $17,000.

• Orcas Open Arts Orcas Jazz Festival, $5,000.

• County parks and fair facility in Eastsound Village Green, $26,700.

• County parks and fair operating budget, $285,000.

• County parks and fair playground Eastsound Village Green, $55,000.

• San Juan Theatre’s heating, vent alation and air conditioning project, $20,000.

• County land purchase for Friends of Lopez Island Pool, $93,900.

• San Juan Island Agricultural Guild’s Eat Island Grown campaign, $15,000.

• San Juan Library’s Salish Speaker series, $6,000.

• Theaters on Lopez, Orcas and San Juan, $114,000.

To watch the Oct. 16 county council meeting, visit