Marietta City Council members Wednesday are set to hear from nearly 20 tourism groups seeking more than $1.4 million in fiscal 2020 grant funds.

The council awards tourism grants annually to organizations that increase tourism and outside spending in the city.

The grants are funded by the city’s 3 % tax on vehicle rentals and an 8 % tax on hotel and motel rooms. The former is projected to collect $645,250 in fiscal 2020, with the latter expected to bring in $431,844; the total of $1,077,094 is what can be divided up amongst the requests for the fiscal 2020 budget, communications director Lindsey Wiles said.

Last year, City Council members approved more than $829,000 in tourism grant requests from 16 organizations.

This year’s requests will be reviewed by the Council’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee and are expected to be approved by the full council June 12.

“(Wednesday’s meeting) is really just for the grant organizations to come forward, present their requests, and really in five minutes or less just talk to us about how they plan to improve tourism within the city through their event,” said Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly, who chairs the committee.

Grant requests range from $8,000 from the Marietta Fire Museum, which has not received any grant money in the previous two funding cycles, to $250,000 sought by the Africa Heritage Foundation, which seeks to promote appreciation for African culture. The latter was a new applicant last year but received no funding.

New applicants for the 2020 fiscal year include Cobb Landmarks and the Atlanta Lyric Theatre.

Not every grant request will be able to be funded, Cooper Kelly said, but added that those that are funded tend to bring a “great return” to the city.

“Most of the events that occur on the Square that usually result in a full shutdown in the city are sponsored by the city through the grant process,” Cooper Kelly said, citing as one example the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art’s Chalktoberfest. “It’s guesstimated that they’re bringing in millions of dollars worth of tourism to the city.”

“We do believe it’s a small amount to contribute for a greater return,” she added.

The Council’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers in City Hall.

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