SHERIDAN — The executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism appeared before the Sheridan City Council Thursday to provide an overview of his organization’s recent efforts and plans for the upcoming year.
The presentation by Shawn Buckley was another installment of recent near-daily hearings as the City Council works to prepare its municipal budget for the coming fiscal year.
Unlike most other subsidized nonprofits, almost all of STT’s budget — an amount just under half a million dollars — comes from revenue collected from the city’s 4 percent lodging tax.
That funding stream was re-approved by voters last November.
Still a relative newcomer to his position, Buckley has worked to largely re-brand Sheridan’s tourism efforts since taking over the reigns of STT in January.
A new website and mobile application aimed at allowing visitors to entirely plan their stays in Sheridan are set to launch later this month. Buckley told the Council the new, more robust tourism effort could lead to economic development down the line.
Buckley also oversaw the recent series of events celebrating Sheridan’s designation as a Signature Destination by the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
He went on to cite tourism as an essential driver of Sheridan’s overall economy.
Following his presentation, Buckley was asked by Councilor Robert Webster whether STT had considered pursuing an expanded lodging tax that applied to the entire county rather than just the city. Buckley responded by saying that while the STT board of commissioners has indeed considered the idea, no steps have yet been taken to set the process in motion.
“We don’t anticipate any specific result at this time, but we’re definitely exploring it,” he said.
The representatives of several Optional One-Cent Sales Tax recipient organizations also appeared before the City Council Thursday to make their case for continued support.
One-Cent distributions were cut across the board by about 11 percent several years ago in an effort to compensate for declining revenues.
Spokesmen for some of the groups that presented Thursday said that while they could do a great deal more with increased funding, they remained thankful for receiving the smaller amounts.
Presenters included the Sheridan Arts Council, the Sheridan County Juvenile Justice Joint Powers Board, the Sheridan Health Center, Volunteers of America and Rehabilitation Enterprises of North Eastern Wyoming.
Of a total proposed city budget of about $44.3 million, One-Cent distributions comprise about $3.3 million.
City officials hope to have a budget finalized by the end of May.