San Benito considers chamber hotel tax

SAN BENITO — After years of pushing, the San Benito Chamber of Commerce might be receiving hotel tax revenues.

Today, city commissioners will consider earmarking hotel occupancy tax money to help the chamber promote the city.

The city would give the chamber $1,500 a month, Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said yesterday.

“We’re going to help them out,” Rodriguez said. “We need to work together.”

As part an agreement, the chamber would use the money to staff a clerk at the new $1.7 million San Benito Cultural Heritage Center, Toni Crane, the chamber’s president, said.

Crane said the chamber’s clerk would serve as a receptionist while distributing brochures aimed at promoting the museum to house the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum and the San Benito History Museum.

It is unclear whether the Freddy Fender Museum would move into the new 7,000-square foot center.

“Our main purpose is to bring people to San Benito,” Crane said. “The chamber is fortunate the city is assisting us.”

The chamber has been requesting the city earmark hotel occupancy tax revenue for about five years, said Lionel Betancourt, the organization’s past president.

“Chambers automatically are entitled to the funds,” Betancourt said.

Betancourt said the city had not given the chamber hotel occupancy tax revenue since about 2012, when the city’s previous chamber of commerce fell dormant.

In 2013, Betancourt worked with Crane and a group of community leaders to revive the chamber, which has operated without hotel occupancy tax revenue.

Betancourt said the city receives about $75,000 a year in hotel occupancy tax revenue.

“With that $75,000 we could really take off running,” he said.

Yesterday, officials could not be reached for comment because City Hall was closed in observance of Presidents Day, City Manager Manuel De La Rosa stated in a text message.

Where’s the money

– $75,000 — city’s annual hotel tax revenue

– $1,500 — proposed monthly payment to help chamber fund museum clerk