Amarillo city officials said hotel occupancy tax collection efforts are on target, noting it lends optimism with regard to reaching this year’s budgeted goal of $6.8 million.

Officials said 6 percent of HOT tax collections are earmarked for the state, the city receives 7 percent of those funds and another 2 percent is dedicated to the Venue District.

Amarillo Finance Director Laura Storrs said the city is using HOT tax funds to satisfy the debt service on the city’s downtown parking garage, as well as the MPEV project. She said the city spent just over $17 million to build the garage and corresponding retail area and streetscape and the MPEV construction cost is $45.5 million. The garage debt service is $775,000 per year while the MPEV’s is $2.4 million.

“For the current year, which extends from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, our budget is $6.8 million,” she said. “The way we formulate the budget is via historical trends. We’ve had many good years of HOT tax collections, but we experienced a flattening this past year and budgeted conservatively for this current budgeting cycle. So far we are hitting those revenue targets through March 31, having collected just under $3 million.”

Storrs said the city has a delinquent list comprised of five hoteliers in arrears in paying HOT taxes, referencing the now shuttered Wyndham Garden Hotel is currently in bankruptcy proceedings and any outstanding funds cannot be collected until those proceedings are completed. She said the Travel Lodge Amarillo is currently delinquent from Oct. 2017 through March 2018 while Comfort Suites South, Motel 6 and Baymont Inn and Suites are the other venues with outstanding payment balances.

“The hoteliers report their HOT tax collections to the state and city in a self-reporting manner,” Storrs said. “We have a third party administrator, MuniServices, that is responsible for the collection efforts. The hoteliers are required to register with them. The hotelier report is due by the 10th day of each month and there are penalties and interest assessed if the report is not filed within the prescribed time frame.”

 HOT taxes are also used to pay for net operating costs at the Civil Center, officials said, in addition to funding the CVC, which supports tourism within the Amarillo local economy.

 “Everything is on target,” Storrs said. “Collections have been coming in strong and we are working on the delinquencies, as a means of getting them resolved sooner than later,” Storrs said. “We are entering what have historically been some of the larger HOT tax collection months and we are confident we will hit those revenue targets.”