BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Stephenville City Council citing a lack of time and documentation turned down a request Tuesday evening for hotel occupancy tax ( HOT) funds from a local martial arts organization that is bringing an event to town this weekend.
Robi Kunkel, the president of Texas Association of Nippon Kenpo, was requesting $5,000 in funding to help promote Cowboy Capital Karate Championship tournament at City Limits in Stephenville.
According to Kunkel, the event had about 200 preregistered athletes, and past tournaments also had about 200 athletes who registered on the day of the competition.
In the past, Kunkel has utilized an agency to help him promote the event through social media and other forms of advertising, but he could not present exact figures from past events because Kunkel had a storage unit broken into recently.
Councilman Mark McClinton questioned how Stephenville would be incorporated in the advertising and Kunkel informed him his association has always done that kind of things in the past to include a historical map, restaurant and hotel information, and maps to the city.
For Councilwoman Sherry Zachery the request was a bit late coming “much like a request at the close of business on a Friday evening.”
Councilman Brandon Huckabee had questions concerning the association qualifying under the current guidelines as either a nonprofit, organization or entity. Tourism and Visitors Bureau director Julie Crouch Smith brought out the section defining groups that are eligible for funding, but the council never seemed to decide if they association did qualify.
Smith explained that the generality of the terms had been drawn up so that whatever group the bureau is working with had the ability to enter into a contract legally. The Texas Association of Nippon Kenpo does have Kunkel as its president, and the association does have officers and board.
Councilman Alan Nix said that he was not sure the event qualified as a “sporting event” under the current guidelines
Councilman Brady Pendleton had more profound questions regarding the number of people attending the event, how many were local and how many people had reserved hotel rooms in the past?
Kunkel said he had rented rooms for his workers in the past but had not gotten into reserving blocks of rooms for the event.
Pendleton encouraged Kunkel to bring more documentation the next time he requests funding saying the council might even approve a more significant request. Based on the information before him Pendleton amended the application to $1,500 and made a motion to accept it that was seconded by McClinton.
Mayor Doug Svien called for a roll-call vote, and the motion was defeated with Nix, Zachary and Huckabee voting against it for a 3-2 margin. Council members Rhett Harrison and Carla Trussell were not in attendance.
The vote drew mixed reactions on social media with some obvious disappoint for some while others thought the lateness of the request and the unfortunate lack of documentation due to a burglary.