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That five-month total is 42% below $ 751,208 in the first few months of the previous fiscal year, Bartlett said. She expects hotel tax revenue to improve slightly for the remainder of this fiscal year, which is about 35% less than last year’s revenue. COVID-19 diagnoses are falling as vaccine consumption increases, and the tourism season is approaching.

While the drop in sales was substantial, the county’s borrowing situation is not in dire straits.

“We have reserves to cover our next payment,” said Scott Felton, a McLennan County judge. “Hopefully these hotels and car rental businesses will get better and return to the levels they were before the pandemic and maybe above.”

Carla Pendergraft, who markets the Waco Convention Center and tourism effort, said interest is growing again with groups booking conferences and conventions. And she said she was happy to have the new venue with bond funding to meet the needs of convention planners. The venue was called The Base, an acronym for Business, Art, Sports, and Entertainment that reflects the building’s potential uses.

“Conservatively speaking, I think a lot of people are trying to book our facilities in 2022,” Pendergraft said. “It’s going to be a great year. In the best case scenario, we will get bookings for July and August of this year. Then it will be until October, possibly the next most likely time, then until 2022.”