Losing more than $11,000 in hotel-motel tax dollars could jeopardize future tourism opportunities in Keizer, Keizer Chamber of Commerce leaders warned at a city budget committee meeting Thursday night.

The city of Keizer typically has kept about 60 percent of the tax collected from hotel guests – estimated at $59,400 this year – allocating 20 percent each to the chamber and Keizer Fire District. The chamber manages the Keizer Area Visitors Center.

A contingent of Chamber backers, including its president and executive director, urged the budget committee to reconsider the city manager’s recommendation that the city keep all the funds this year to balance its budget.

State law mandates the monies be used to promote tourism, but city officials believe they’re in the legal right keeping the money, in part because community center rentals bring more guests into town, the city manager said Tuesday.

“Statistically if you take away a marketing budget from any entity it will collapse,” said Rick Day, a chamber board member.

“The chamber takes this duty very seriously,” said Rich Duncan, the chamber’s president. “… The chamber believes strongly the visitor and tourism services they provide is a win-win and has a proven record of success.”

Duncan predicted revenues from hotel-motel tax could fall beyond what city leaders propose keeping.

Derik Milton, who sits on the chamber’s finance committee and board of directors, asked committee members to “look at the dollar ratios.”

JoAnne Beilke, a finance committee member and former Keizer Chamber tourism director, said the chamber fulfills the “service of answering all the calls that come in around the nation, and the emails that come in … about coming to Keizer, you know?”

Hotel-motel tax collections is projected to decline for the fourth straight year. Revenues fell from $79,710 in 2007-08 (ending June 30, 2008) to a projected $59,400 in 2010-11, and city finance officials project $57,700 in 2011-12.

It does, however, seem the decline is slowing. If the 2010-11 projection holds up, the decline of $1,790 (3 percent) between 2009-10 and 2010-11 is dramatically smaller than the prior two years’ decline. Revenues fell $10,793 (14 percent) between 2007-08 and 2008-09 and $7,727 (11 percent) between 2008-09 and 2009-10.