Dear Citizens and Media,
The City of Alpine has has historically participated in the collection and distribution of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds. Hoteliers collect the funds when people stay in their establishments and then pay into the City HOT Fund either monthly or quarterly (depending on their size). The State of Texas has certain guidelines on how communities can distribute these funds.
The City is allowed to delegate the expenditure of these hotel taxes to another entity (for example, a Chamber to run a Visitor Center) as long as they follow the guidelines of the usage law and keep the hotel tax funds in a separate account. Tax code 351.101 does a nice job giving further explanation.
In 2015, the City Manager requested the Chamber to demonstrate to the City that these guidelines were being met and to submit regular sets of ﬁnancial documents back to the City. In early 2016, the City Manager followed this request up in writing. After repeated delays from the Chamber, the documents were ﬁnally submitted in February 2017. Through an initial review of these documents, the City Manager deemed it necessary for the City to take back over running of the Visitor Center. At the March 21, 2017 City Council meeting, the City Council took action and authorized the City Manager to move forward with the City taking over management of the Visitor Center.
As part of the Cities ﬁnancial process, we deemed it necessary to perform an audit of expenditures from the Visitor Center account back to January 2016. Through that audit, we found further peculiarities that caused the City to initiate a letter to the Chamber asking for further explanation from the fund. If the expenditures do not meet State requirements, the City will be asking for a refund of those questionable expenses.
The City is aware that the Chamber has gathered legal counsel and is working back with the Texas Ranger and law enforcement in general. We continue to keep apprised and ready for the Chamber’s feedback and are cooperating with law enforcement.
There is no wrong-doing on the City of Alpines part. We are simply working to uphold the law and ensure supporting entities do the same.
Please address any inquiries to our City Manager, Erik Zimmer.
432-837-3301 or firstname.lastname@example.org