The Ridgecrest City Council at its meeting April 3 received for filing a Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau report: the Ridgecrest Tourism Improvement District Annual Report 2018-2019, and financial statements dated Sept. 30, 2018.

The documents are available for viewing as agenda attachments at https://ridgecrest-ca.gov/council-agendas.

According to the statement of financial position dated Sept. 30, 2018, the RACVB has total net assets of just over $100,000. The report was prepared by Burkey Cox Evans & Bradford.

The statement defines the RACVB as a not-for-profit mutual benefit corporation formed to advertise and promote the City of Ridgecrest and its continuing economic growth and to purchase liability insurance for activities which promote the best interests of the city and its organizations. It states that the RACVB qualifies as an IRS 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization and under section 23701(e) of the State of California Revenue and Taxation Code.

It further notes that the RACVB is organized as a Tourism Improvement District, with approximately 96 percent of its revenues coming from transient occupancy taxes collected by the city and transferred to the bureau. Occupancy tax is a tax on room rentals required from all hotels in Ridgecrest.

The report also notes that “[a] substantial number of volunteers have donated significant amounts of their time to the Bureau’s activities” and that this donated time is not reflect in the financial statements since they do not meet the criteria for recognition under FASB Codification Topic 958 Not-for-Profit Entities.

According to the Ridgecrest Tourism Improvement District 2018-2019 annual report dated Dec. 6, 2018, the district at that time included 17 lodging businesses.

Recent lodging changes include the opening of SureStay by Best Western on East Ridgecrest Boulevard and two name changes. Travel Inn on West Upjohn Avenue changed its name to Hotel Europa, and Economy Inn & Suites on South China Lake Boulevard changed its name to Travel Inn & Suites.

The total anticipated budget for RTID for 2018-2019 is just under $500,000. Categorical breakdown of expenditures is as follows: sales marketing and events – 66.5 percent; administration – 26.9 percent; contingency/reserve – 3.7 percent and city fee – 2.9 percent.

The annual assessment rate is three percent of gross room rental revenue. The assessment was implemented on Oct. 1, 2017 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2027.

The consent calendar item was pulled for discussion by Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Stephens. She said that while she appreciates the RACVB, that she has received many complaints about a recent billboard showing a bed and saying that camping is so last century. She said that judging by complaints, it is even more unpopular than the previous billboard.

“I agree with you and we are working on getting it out of there. We don’t like it,” RACVB Executive Director Doug Lueck said.

“Do you anticipate any changes at all for this coming year, based on what you have seen?” Mayor Peggy Breeden asked.

Lueck said possibly a slight downturn. “We are kind of going into a dip right now, but let’s hope we pull it out,” he said. He added that the current wildflower bloom is helping.

Dave Matthews spoke up during public comment, noting that the report was not actually presented at the council meeting. “Everybody doesn’t go online, Mayor,” he said. “It should have been given here.”

Lueck promised to give Matthews a copy of the report.

Council voted unanimously to receive and file the report. All five members were present.

In another consent calendar item, Council reaffirmed and approved the city’s annual investment policy which was unchanged from the previous year. This item was approved unanimously.

This item was also pulled by Stephens, who asked if the city is still looking at other options. Finance Director Cheri Freese replied yes, but that the current investment strategy is performing well.