DEL MAR — Council members finally received a progress report with financial details on the Tourism Business Improvement District formed nearly three years ago to increase occupancy in the city’s six hotels.The district is required to provide City Council with an annual update. A presentation was given March 4 by the owner of a company hired to help with the marketing efforts but council members were frustrated by the lack of financial information.
Those details were provided June 3 by John Lambeth of Civitas Advisors, who helped develop the Del Mar program, and Mike Slosser, general manager of L’Auberge Del Mar and chairman of Visit Del Mar, the nonprofit organization created by the district to manage the assessments.
Slosser was sick in March and unable to attend that meeting to give a presentation.
The district is funded by a 1 percent fee paid by hotel guests since October 2010. Nearly $375,000 has been collected so far but less than half has been spent, Lambeth said.
After repaying the start-up costs, about $205,000 was rolled over into this year’s budget. Most of that will be spent in the next six months, Slosser said.
Nearly $30,000 will go toward downtown improvements such as pathway lighting between Hotel Indigo and downtown, holiday lighting and entry signs into the city.
The remaining $175,000 is slated for marketing.
The majority of the money collected — 74 percent — is budgeted for a promotional campaign. Another 10 percent each goes to commercial zone improvements and the Del Mar Village Association downtown program.
Only 5 percent is allocated for administrative costs and the city receives 1 percent to cover any costs incurred for processing the money, which is collected with the transient occupancy tax.
By comparison, the Carlsbad and Carlsbad Golf district budgets total more than $1 million and Coronado and Oceanside have budgets of $517,000 and $472,000, respectively.
Del Mar’s is enough to make a difference but it’s on the small side, Lambeth said.
Slosser also noted collections were impacted because some of the hotels have undergone renovations since the district was formed.
The assessment applies to hotel stays 30 days or shorter. Government days are not assessed.
The five owners of the six hotels — L’Auberge, Hotel Indigo, Del Mar Motel on the Beach, Del Mar Inn/Clarion, Les Artistes Inn and Secret Garden Inn — make up Visit Del Mar’s governing board.
A DMVA representative was also included as a nonvoting member, but new rules no longer allow nonprofit organizations to have nonvoting board members so the DMVA representative is now an advisory member.
The board will be expanding to include restaurants and other businesses. The district is also developing comprehensive partnerships with the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack, Lambeth said.
Slosser said an expanded board is a “great idea.”
“We want it to be inclusive,” he said. “We believe it ought to be shared even though it was funded by us. All boats ride with the tide.”
A website — dreamdelmar.com — has been launched where visitors can input desired vacation dates and a list of all available Del Mar hotels and rates are displayed. It also lists things to do, shopping, restaurants and more.
The site will also allow the district to track its success.
Mayor Terry Sinnott said he was particularly concerned about the $205,000 rollover funds.
“We’re not in business just to be collecting money,” he said. “I appreciate the fact that that’s going to start being used.
“We encourage what you’re doing,” Sinnott added. “Let’s focus on the ball as to what we’re trying to do.”
Slosser said the district will allow the hoteliers “to brand Del Mar as a destination rather than being a drive-through element between Encinitas and Solana Beach and skip over to La Jolla.”
“It’s going to give us an opportunity … to bring awareness of what’s here because this is a fantastic place that more people need to know about,” he said.