Maggie alderman will replace town's tourism board representativeDecision made mid-appointment; suprise to Edwards
In a 4-1 vote, Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen approved a request to change its appointee to the Haywood County Tourist Development Authority.
Newly elected Alderman Mike Eveland brought up the issue during “other business” at Wednesday’s regular board meeting. Even though the specific item wasn’t on the agenda, Eveland said he would like to discuss the town’s appointment to the TDA —the board that makes the decisions about how occupancy tax revenue is spent.
“Most municipalities use someone on the board or the town manager (as their representative),” he said. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity to make a change there that will allow us to have one of us on the board.”
Mayor Ron DeSimone said he thought it was a good idea to have one of the board members serving on the TDA. He said the town's representative should represent the interest of the board and not lodging owners or residents.
Robert Edwards, owner of The Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley, currently serves as the town’s representative. Edwards vocally supported the proposed occupancy tax increase put forth last year because it would only be used to improve tourism-related infrastructure. But he recently said he had concerns about the proposal at a February TDA meeting.
Edwards questioned whether the proposal to increase the occupancy tax on lodging owners from 4 percent to 6 percent had to be done during the upcoming short session. He also said there was opposition in Maggie Valley because people were concerned about how the additional revenue would be managed and suggested the TDA clear up any misconceptions before trying to pass the legislation.
With the exception of Alderman Phillip Wight, the board of aldermen is in favor of getting the occupancy tax legislation passed this year.
Wight said he trusted the town’s representative and didn’t want to remove him from the TDA just because the board wants to insert its political stance into the conversation.
“Maybe the person we have needs to understand he represents us,” Wight said. “But I don’t know if we should replace him.”
Eveland said the decision wasn’t a reflection on Edwards.
“I just think we need to be more directly involved” in the TDA," he said.
Alderman Saralyn Price was also in favor of changing the appointment so the board can have a better idea of what is going on with the TDA.
Alderman Janet Banks made a motion recommending the appointment of Eveland to serve as the town’s representative on the TDA and it passed 4-1 with Wight opposed.
Town Manager Nathan Clark said the recommendation would be sent to TDA Executive Director Lynn Collins who will then present the recommendation to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners for a final decision.
“I think it’s appropriate and I trust Mike to represent the majority opinion of this board,” DeSimone said.
Wight said he was opposed to removing a qualified person from that board so the town could assert more control over the TDA.
“He’s doing a fine job,” he said. “Possibly I’d say yes if his (term) was up, but I can’t go that far.”
When reached for comment Thursday morning, Edwards said no elected officials in Maggie had contacted him about his appointment. He declined further comment until he has a chance to discuss the matter with the town.
Before Eveland's appointment takes effect, it must be approved by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners.