For full Advertising Program Policy(PDF: 229 kB)
A. Economic Development and Promotional Organizations
The Board desires to designate available funds towards projects and initiatives that stimulate and expand the county’s economic vitality.
- Chambers of Commerce:
Funding may be provided to Chambers of Commerce serving unincorporated areas of Sonoma County. Chambers located in the unincorporated area of the county will be given priority in funding consideration. Allocation of funds will be based upon an up to 10% match of membership dues and private cash contributions that are discretionary revenue to the chamber and are not associated with a particular event, function or position. A maximum of $40,000 per year may be made available for Chambers of Commerce.
- Visitors Centers:
Funding for Visitor Centers within the county may be considered at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors. For purposes of funding, Visitors Centers will be distinct from the Tourism Marketing Program. Requests for funding can be made annually to the Economic Development Board.
- Economic Development Board:
The Board of Supervisors has designated the Economic Development Board (EDB) to provide business assistance services to enable local businesses to maintain or expand their operations. The EDB will request funds annually through the budget process and will considered at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.
- Tourism Marketing Program:
As determined by the Board of Supervisors, the County will provide TOT funds for advertising and promotional efforts as provided by the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau (SCTB). A sum equivalent to the first 2% of the 9% TOT tax collected in the unincorporated Sonoma County will be designated for the SCTB. The county’s TOT contribution to SCTB is disbursed through the EDB budget.
- Visitor Way Finding and Signage:
Funding may be provided for permanent signage related to visitor way finding and area identification. These funds are intended for the installment and maintenance of permanent identification signs, not temporary or event promotion signs. A maximum of $100,000 per year may be made under this category.
- Workforce Development and Scholarships:
Acknowledging that a qualified workforce is essential to the growing needs of the tourism industry as well as the overall health of the community, the Board of Supervisors has designated funds to support workforce development and to increase access to educational opportunities through scholarships. Requests may be made for multi-year grants. A maximum of $400,000 per year may be made available for Workforce Development and Scholarships.
B. County Tourism Impacts
- Parks, Recreation, and Event Facilities: The Board of Supervisors desires to provide TOT funds to County departments for recreational activities that benefit local tourism activities and the tourist industry, including, but not limited to, the Regional Parks Department and the Fairgrounds and Exposition, Inc., and Veterans Halls (under contract or managed by the General Services Department). Funding provided to the Regional Parks Department is allocated for operations and maintenance of existing park facilities only. Requests for TOT funds from County departments will be reviewed annually on a case-by-case basis and will be considered at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.
- Community Safety:
The Board of Supervisors desires to address potential impacts on visitors’ and residents’ safety as a result of high-impact tourism within the unincorporated areas of the county. A maximum of $90,000 per year may be made available under this category as Program funding allows.
Request for Advertising funds under this category will be reviewed annually on a case-by-case basis. Grants will be awarded as per recommendations from the Fire Advisory Council (effective for FY 17-18 grant cycle).
The following guidelines and specific criteria must be met to be eligible for funding under this category:
- Only public safety agencies located in the unincorporated area of the county may apply under this category.
- Applicants must request funding for a specific purpose (i.e. personnel training, safety equipment, etc.) and include the cost of the activity in relation to the amount of grant funds being applied for.
- Applicants must demonstrate a clear nexus between the grant request activity and impacts of tourism resulting in the necessity of the activity.
- Applicants must demonstrate a clear nexus between the request activity and the benefit to the resident and visitor population within the unincorporated area of the county resulting from the activity.
C. Agricultural Promotion
The Board of Supervisors desires to support advertising campaigns and promotional activities directed by Sonoma County agricultural and viticulture industries.
- A maximum of $185,000 per year may be made available for agricultural and viticulture industries under this category.
- The following general guidelines shall apply to this category:
- In order to promote collaborative advertising and promotional efforts within the agricultural sector, only one application will be considered under this category. Such application shall include promotion of the major agricultural related activities within Sonoma County.
- Application requests that include multiple agency efforts will require submission of agency budgets from all involved agencies.
- If county funds are redistributed to other agencies a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between agencies must be submitted with application.
- Agency applying under this category must be responsive to requests for visitor information on a year-round basis.
- The request must be part of a larger advertising program. Industry commitment as demonstrated by matching industry/membership contributions must exceed request for funding from County advertising program.
D. Historical Commissions
The Board of Supervisors desires to support historical preservation of the county’s culture and historical records and architecture.
- A maximum of $60,000 per year may be made available for this category.
- The County has designated the Sonoma County Landmarks Commission to advice on the distribution of funds for preservation and restoration of historically significant buildings. Funding may be provided to this Commission to accept grant applications for the renovation, restoration and/or preservation of historical facilities.
- The Board has designated a Historical Records Commission to review and make recommendations regarding the maintenance and destruction and retention of records, which may be of historical significance. Funding under this category may be provided for these activities.
E. Local Events, Organizations and Economic Development
The Board has established this category to assist small cultural, artistic, and countywide events and organizations as well as events occurring during the off peak tourism season (November 15 through April 15) with funding for advertising and economic development efforts that promote Sonoma County and encourage visitors to frequent the county throughout the entire year.
Funding for these events and organizations will be at the discretion of each Supervisorial District. Events and organizations will make requests annually to the Supervisorial District in which their event/organization exists.
$170,000 has been allocated for district discretion. 50% of this allocation will be divided equally across each district as baseline funding. The remaining 50% will be divided by the percent of TOT collections by district in the previous fiscal year.
F. Major County Events and Organizations
The Board of Supervisors desires to promote major events and cultural and artistic organizations which draw countywide, regional, state and national interest as evidenced by widespread media promotion and which can demonstrate a significant population of participants and visitors from outside the county.
- A maximum of $300,000 per year may be made available for major events and organizations within this category.
- The following general guidelines apply to this category:
- Must demonstrate overall attendance either at a single event or through a series of events in excess of 15,000, with significant (20% or more) demonstrated attendance from out of the county.
- Must demonstrate extent of out-of-county attendance and demonstrate link to overnight stays from attendees.
- Must demonstrate advertising expenses exceeding $25,000, of which the Advertising funds being requested must not exceed 50% of total advertising expenses for the event or organization.
- Must demonstrate a major advertising campaign plan focused outside of the county.
- Must demonstrate the extent to which the event, season series, exhibit, or marketing effort will support the county’s economic development in the form of local job promotion, local education contribution, and/or local business-chambers of commerce-visitors centers partnerships.
- The maximum advertising fund contribution which can be applied for is $50,000.
- Funds are only to be used for advertising and promotion of the events and not towards the cost of event production.
- The following will be requested as part of the application process for all events and organizations who apply for advertising funds under this category. This information is not required and failure to provide will not result in disqualification, however, the information will be used to determine grant awards and amounts based on demonstrated ability to most effectively promote tourism, agricultural, and/or economic development.
- A complete Advertising Fund grant application (form provided by the County);
- A completed post-program/event report containing results and benefits of prior year activities and events, if the entity received Advertising Funds in the previous fiscal year (form provided by the County);
- Detail the advertising/promotional campaign for which advertising funds are being requested, including the type of advertising and region(s) of promotion;
- Detail how these activities will promote attendance, including expected attendance, overnight stays, and visitor spending; and
- Detail how the County of Sonoma organization will be promoted as an organization/event sponsor in advertising materials, available event/booth attendance, and other such activities. Information should also be provided on available sponsorship packages.
G. County Government Departmental Activities
The Board of Supervisors desires to provide Advertising funds for certain county departmental activities that benefit local tourism activities and the tourist industry, and which preserve and promote Sonoma County history. Advertising funds may be used for salaries of County employees when participating in activities funded by Advertising funds. Administrative costs (including collection, audit, program coordination, consultant, and legal services), should not exceed 10% of the estimated and/or budgeted TOT revenues.
Request for Advertising funds from departments will be reviewed annually on a case-by-case basis.
- Miscellaneous Department Activities:
Funding may be provided to County departments to advertise specific activities which promote tourism and awareness of the County, including, but not limited to, the Sonoma County Library, the Sonoma County State Capital Exhibit, and similar endeavors; as well as provide for venue services where tourist and community activities take place.
- Affordable Housing:
Funding may also be identified for an affordable housing program. Funding designated for affordable housing shall be recommended by the County Administrator's Office based on available funding and approved by the Board of Supervisors on an annual basis. As a goal, funds will be recommended based upon 50% of revenues directed toward this fund that are generated from facilities established after 2002, pursuant to the March 2002 Board Policy Workshop, and after categories A-F and H-I have been funded at appropriate levels.
The Community Development Commission and the Permit and Resources Management Department shall make requests for these funds annually through the budget process for funding affordable housing programs and related efforts as well as for implementation of the Housing Element. Additionally, $60,000 shall remain in the Affordable Housing Set Aside Fund within the Advertising Program to be available for emergency shelter needs that arise throughout the year that have not been addressed elsewhere.
Should additional funds set aside for affordable housing remain available following these requests and the Set Aside, the funds shall be allocated to the existing County Fund for Housing (CFH), administrated by the Community Development Commission.
- Collections/Audit Services:
Revenue and tax collection services and program and grantee audit services are provided for this Program. Funding shall be recommended by the County Administrator’s Office annually to fund these activities.
- Legal Services:
Legal guidance, advice, interpretation and other related services are provided for this Program. Funding shall by recommended be the County Administrator’s Office annually to fund these activities.
- Program Administration Services:
Administration of this Program, including policy management and review, budget management and review, application review and recommendation, contract management, claims processing, and other related activities are provided by the County Administrator’s Office. Funding shall by recommended be the County Administrator’s Office annually to fund these activities.
H. Documentary Films
The Board of Supervisors desires to support Sonoma County based documentary films that document and promote or maintain a historical record of the region, culture, community and arts.
- A maximum of $30,000 per year may be made available for documentary film production, with an allocation not to exceed $10,000 per film.
- The following general guidelines apply in this category:
- Must demonstrate historical, current social issues, cultural, regional or specific human experiences in Sonoma County that raise awareness and create an impact upon the viewing audience.
- Must have real, factual situations and circumstances which leave audiences better informed.
- Must provide detail of advertising/promotional campaign activities, including the type of advertising and region(s) of promotion.
- Must be able to demonstrate that the film will be exhibited publicly, including but not limited to broadcast and cable television, and Internet transmission.
- Applicant must provide a production timeline including release date of film and the cost of the activity in relation to the amount of grant funds being applied for.
I. Seasonal and Off Peak Programs
The Board of Supervisors desires to promote seasonal programs, events and cultural and artistic organizations as well as events that occur during the off peak tourism season (November 15 through April 15) which draw countywide and regional interest and which can demonstrate participants and visitors from within and/or outside the county. The program will pay for the direct cost of advertising.
- A maximum of $50,000 per year may be made available under this category.
- The maximum advertising fund contribution which can be applied for is $5,000.
- The following general guidelines apply to this category:
- Must detail overall attendance from in and/or outside of the county.
- Must demonstrate local and/or out of county advertising campaign plan.
- Must demonstrate the extent to which the event, seasonal program, exhibit or marketing effort will support the County’s economic development in the form of local job promotion, local education contribution, and/or overnight stays from attendees.
- Must provide a budget of total advertising expenses in relation to the amount of grant funds being applied for.