On Tuesday, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors approved spending $280,000 to help promote the county.
Recommended by the County Economic Development Advisory Committee, one of the recommendations approved by the board was $80,000 for a mini-grant program. The grants would be awarded for up to $5,000 for cultural and community development projects. Half of the $80,000 would come from carryover funds from the 2012-13 year; the other $40,000 would be from 2013-2014 funds.
The program goal would be to encourage tourism, agriculture and economic development in the county by supporting promotional, cultural and community activities. Nonprofit organizations would be eligible for funding. Individuals, for-profit organizations and political groups would not.
Supervisors Ron Mikulaco and Brian Veerkamp volunteered to serve on the subcommittee to review the grant applications. Their recommendations would be presented to the full board for approval.
The board also approved spending $100,000 for a grant development program. Proposals would be sought to address different grant related support services including funding needs analysis, grant research, grant proposal development, grant administration and reporting, as well as training in preparing comprehensive grant proposals. The areas included in the program would be history, arts and culture, community planning, public facilities and maintenance, public health/mental health, economic development, identification and design, transportation infrastructure and planning, social services, law enforcement and technology development.
Another proposal approved was spending $100,000 to develop a Web portal that would serve as a “launching point or gateway to all the assets and resources available in the County of El Dorado.” Included in the project would be creating a mobile app to provide updates on county events. Assets would include businesses and restaurants, tourism and recreation opportunities, employment information and real estate services. The target audience would be people interested in living, working or recreating in the county. Ongoing expenses related to running the portal would come from the advertising on the portal.
All $280,000 comes from the hotel tax.
Most of those speaking on the different proposals were enthusiastic supporters. Michael Ranalli, a member of the County Economic Development Advisory Committee, said the different proposals would help market El Dorado County and he encouraged the board to move forward on them.
Davey “Doc” Wiser was first in line to ask for a grant, saying he’d use it to offer stagecoach rides. “I’d show you where every penny went,” he said, adding the money would go to a good cause.
Jeanne Harper, a community activist in Pollock Pines, suggested that the Web portal would help connect different communities in the county while Linnea Marenco, a member of the Divide Chamber of Commerce, urged the board to adopt the proposals to attract more people to visit the county and especially communities on the Divide.
The lone voice speaking against the proposals was resident Sue Taylor, who objected to the county paying for the project, saying private industry should do it. She suggested the county stop collecting the hotel tax and allow hotels to keep the money to market their own businesses. She also cautioned the board that the grants might become, in her words, “an incubator for cronyism.”
Taylor also criticized the idea of a Web portal, saying the county was prepared to spend $100,000 on one when there were people in the county doing it for free. She also cautioned the county about getting into the marketing of businesses.
However, board members were supportive of the proposals although they suggested some changes to the grant application and process to ensure more accountability.
With that, the board voted unanimously to adopt all of the proposals.
According to staff, the Request for Proposals for the grants, Web portal and grant development programs were expected to be released July 17 with proposals due back Aug. 21.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter