Scottsdale bed tax helps fuel emerging Wine & Food Experience

An overview of WestWorld Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, that articulates the wide open spaces at the tourism event hub. (Photo courtesy of the city of Scottsdale)

WestWorld of Scottsdale is expected to host about 5,000 people for the Wine & Food Experience on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4.

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (File)

Scottsdale City Council, in late September, provided the R Entertainment Company with a $75,000 shot in the arm materialized in a one-year sponsorship agreement between the local entertainment entity and the municipality.

In partnership with the Gannett Company — the parent company of, the Arizona Republic and USA Today newspapers — and R Entertainment, marketing sponsorship for the event entails a series of video opportunities for Experience Scottsdale, a collection of email marketing efforts and a series of print advertisements throughout the USA Today Networks.

City officials estimate the $300,000 event marketing budget, of which $75,000 is derived from bed tax remits and $85,000 is supplied by R Entertainment, will generate an additional $3.4 million in both local and out-of-state “destination media value.”

In all, event promoters contend:

  • The producer of the event will spend at least $37,500 in direct event marketing efforts; and
  • The producer of the event will spend an additional $37,500 in pre-event marketing and promotions.

The dollars and cents of the agreement, which was approved unanimously by Scottsdale City Council, is derived from the Tourism Development Fund, a fund created by the collection of taxes on tourism activities known within municipal hallways as “bed tax.”

Approved by the Scottsdale electorate in 2010 at a rate of 5 percent, which was a 2 percent increase ratified by voters, the transient lodging tax known as bed tax is a fund designed to help pay for and fuel various tourism efforts.

In late March, Scottsdale City Council approved — by a 6 to 1 vote with Councilman David Smith dissenting — modifications to Financial Policy No. 21A, which defines the amount of revenue available to the municipality for primarily tourism development.

The major philosophical change of revenue allocation regarding bed-tax dollars has been a shift from dollars and cents to percentages, according to Scottsdale City Treasurer Jeff Nichols.

While the allocation philosophy has shifted, over the last three fiscal years bed tax dollars have been helping to fuel the Food & Wine Experience along with a series of other events, Independent archives state.

In October 2016, Scottsdale City Council approved the allocation of no more than $82,500 from the Tourism Development Fund to help bolster the fledging Food & Wine event, records show. In 2016, the event, which then was in its second year, was hosted at Salt River Fields in the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

This year, the event is expected to occur at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road.

According to the Artigue Agency, this round of funding is the third consecutive year for taxpayer subsidy of the event that ranges with a cost of admission from $85 to $160. The Artigue Agency provided a two-page economic impact analysis of the proposal outlining the effort to make the event a “permanent, signature lifestyle event for Scottsdale.”

In his report to City Council, Tourism Development Manager Steve Geiogamah confirms the event serves a public purpose and the economic analysis illustrates that point.

“City staff has evaluated the proposal to identify the benefits for the city and the local tourism industry and has identified a public purpose for the city’s expenditure,” he said. “The marketing and promotional benefits provide direct consideration substantially equal to the proposed city expenditure.”

Scottsdale Councilwoman Linda Milhaven and Suzanne Klapp both during a recent City Council meeting. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment