PEKIN — The Pekin City Council on Monday approved its annual $25,000 membership dues to the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mayor John McCabe and Councilmen John Abel. Michael Ritchason, Lloyd Orrick and Rusty Dunn voted yes on the membership; Councilman Tim Golden voted no and Councilman Mark Luft abstained.

The city of Pekin has for many years used the services of the PACVB to promote the city for events and tourism.

Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Fleming told the Council the PACVB provides numerous benefits for Pekin, including the production of Christmas on Court in 2016, promotes events in regional publications, produces events in other communities that residents attend for entertainment and provides and supports jobs. Other events the PACVB are involved in are the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, Wings & Wheels, the Craft Soda Festival Tour and the Marigold Festival.

Fleming said that 8.7 percent of “Pekin’s workforce are employed in the arts, entertainment, recreation and hospitality industries. We know that not all of those jobs are in Pekin, some of those Pekin residents work in the hospitality industry in Peoria and throughout the region, and so for these reasons I believe the city’s investment in this membership is a good use of your hotel/motel tax receipts.”

McCabe said that the tourism fund comes solely from the hotel/motel tax. The city, “going into this fiscal year (had) $245,000 in the tourism fund.” 

McCabe said that the city pays dedicated funds like the PACVB membership and several others in the amount of about $150,000.

“So, if we make all the contributions that we made last year again in this coming year, it would still leave us with about $95,000 in the tourism fund,” said McCabe. He said that money can be used for necessities or as reserves for next year to help promote the city.

McCabe said he has heard many comments from people about how well East Peoria is doing with the levy district. He said the city paid a lot for the Levy District and also pays $50,000 to the PACVB. Peoria pays 30 percent of its hotel/motel tax to the PACVB, which far exceeds the contribution of Pekin and East Peoria combined.

“There’s a good amount of money that’s going into the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, but of course it’s going to good use,” said McCabe. 

One publication alone from the PACVB has a circulation of 70,000.

Councilman Rusty Dunn said the cost for the PACVB membership pays for itself.

“If you look at that investment of $25,000 ... if you price that out at an outside agency or organization, I don’t know what the exact cost would be, but it would be well over $50,000 to get all of those things,” said Dunn.

Councilman Mark Luft said PACVB markets Pekin to eight counties.

“That’s huge for what it would cost us to do that,” he said. 

Dunn did some research on tourism in Illinois and said because of the budget crisis, Illinois tourism promotion stopped for six months in 2015. Hotel tax revenue was down 15 percent, according to the Illinois department of Revenue.

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin