The Leander Chamber of Commerce provided an update on hotel occupancy tax funds, budget expenses and goals for the upcoming year at the Feb. 2 Leander City Council meeting.

Last year’s budget for the chamber was $126,556, according to chamber documents. The money was spent on information centers, advertising, promotion and improvement of the arts, historical preservation and restoration projects, and signage to direct the public to city attractions.

In 2020, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Leander opened, making it the first and only hotel in Leander, and kickstarting the city’s collection of hotel occupancy tax. The chamber received $247,281 since the beginning of its hotel contract. Out of that amount, the chamber has $46,645 left to spend.

Chamber President and CEO Bridget Brandt said the remaining amount could potentially be used for a statue, signage for Old Town Park or a hotel study.

“We’re not able to do [big projects like that] on an annual basis, because our budget is too small, and we just can’t,” Brandt said at the Feb. 2 meeting. “So we started setting aside funds each year to be able to aggregate those funds to be able to hold and eventually do some of the larger projects that we have as a goal.”

In 2022, engagement from the chamber’s blog and social media posts grew to 41,564 views—a 53.8% jump from 27,023 views in 2021. Brandt credits the jump to the recent change in content and it now being “more meaningful, more valuable and more consistent.”

Chamber goals for 2023 include a brand-new website and migration to a new system, which allows the ability to use kiosks, and assists the city in conducting a hotel study and the official launch of the Trail of Trains Scavenger Hunt.

“It’s a whole lot of fun to see all the brainstorming and all the ideas that have come through different events and meetings and just chit-chatting around the table and see how they come to fruition,” Council Member Becki Ross said at the meeting. “It makes my heart happy.”