Cowlitz County commissioners Tuesday approved a $30,000 agreement with Kelso Babe Ruth, bringing the group’s $490,900 remodel of Rister Stadium within reach.

The improvement project now is about $40,000 short of its goal. The county’s contribution will come from its tourism program reserves.

Organizer Travis Keele, the President of Babe Ruth Youth Baseball, said the project may be in line for another $50,000 grant that could be used to turf the infield.

In all, the commissioners approved about $80,000 in lodging tax dollars to 11 projects. Lodging taxes are collected from taxes on hotel customers.

Commissioner Dennis Weber said although he supports all the projects, he opposed all lodging tax distributions at this time because pending legislation could force the county to share some of its lodging tax receipts with cities. He said it would not be “financially wise” to spend money the county may not get.

“It would be a substantial loss,” Weber said. “We shouldn’t be spending money if we don’t have it.”

Cowlitz County collects an additional 2 percent lodging tax from hotels and motels throughout the county. The proposed legislation would allow cities to keep lodging taxes generated within city limits.

Commissioners Joe Gardner and Arne Mortensen voted to approve the grants. Gardner said since many of the projects that use the funds are later in the year, the commissioners have time to revisit the funding. The county will have to rework it’s tourism program on a broader scale if the legislation goes through, he said.

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