Klickitat County Commissioner Don Struck has been literally working overtime lately to try to fashion a fresh approach to provide funding the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce. He deserves praise for his creative efforts.
In addition to his duties for the county -- which require him to travel to Goldendale multiple times each week -- Struck has been visible at evening meetings of the Bingen City Council and the White Salmon City Council recently, promoting the funding plan and seeking support.
Working with Carl McNew, president of the Mount Adams Chamber, Struck has been crafting a way to pass additional revenues to the local chamber. Here's the idea: Rather than have the dollars raised through the state's hotel-motel tax funds be passed to the county's Economic Development Department in Goldendale -- where it is later dispersed to pay for tourism-related projects -- the money would go directly to the county's two chambers of commerce in White Salmon and Goldendale.
The upshot of the revamped approach is that the Mount Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce would each more than double their current level of funding, from $15,000 annually to about $35,000. The chambers would each receive an added $20,000 (approximately) in funding via the hotel-motel tax, while the county would continue budgeting a base level of $15,000 per year to help fund the chambers.
The enhanced funding would go to help with local tourism projects, and pay for a full-time staff person for the tourist information center directly west of the Hood River Toll Bridge.
Not only does would this approach provide more money for the local chamber, it would serve to give the Mount Adams Chamber -- and by extension business owners and residents in the west end of the county -- more control over how the money will be spent.
This stratagem is a good example of how creative thinking can solve problems. Commissioner Struck has spearheaded a progressive solution that is likely to significantly boost tourism efforts in the western half of the county, yet at the same time it won't impact the county's budget.
Now that the city councils of Bingen and White Salmon have signed off on the idea, here's hoping Mr. Struck's fellow County Commissioners offer their vote in support of this fine proposal soon.