Maggie should be a team player

Feb 27, 2013

There is no question that Maggie Valley businesses are hurting now more than ever. Residents and business owners who attended a special Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night described the community as a ghost town.

Many Maggie hotel owners oppose increasing the occupancy tax from 4 to 6 percent in fear that it will only add another tax burden for their dwindling customers. Many others are worried about the lack of a plan to spend the extra money and so are we, but the community will have plenty of time to configure a plan after the legislative deadline of March 4 is met.

We applaud the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority for finally taking a broader look at Haywood County’s potential for putting more heads in beds. The goal of increasing the tax is to be able to spend the revenue on capital improvements in the county, which will hopefully increase overnight visitors.

As Maggie Valley residents and business owners pointed out Monday, Maggie collects more than 50 percent of the tax because it has the most accommodations in the county. Therefore, it would be logical to conclude that the town will benefit from the increased tax.

Some business owners were agreeable to the increased tax as long as it comes directly to Maggie Valley. Many said it was only fair for Maggie to get the 2 percent since it collected the most money. But as Beth Brown, TDA board member, pointed out during the meeting, the amount collected in Maggie is only decreasing.

Even if the town could somehow get the 2 percent allocated for Maggie Valley, which isn’t going to happen, the pot wouldn’t be as large. It wouldn’t be enough to complete large projects or to assist a private company with a project. More can be accomplished if all the municipalities chip in their share.

Others were concerned about the benefits of spending money on sports complexes and how that would benefit Maggie. Maggie Valley Mayor Ron DeSimone tried to explain that was just one idea of many. Different groups down the road will propose projects, and a committee representing the different stakeholders will measure the benefits of each proposal before approving it.

We agree that Maggie Valley should have proper representation on that committee so that the town will have a shot at completing worth while projects to increase its tourism, like enhancing the stay for the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts who come to the area for the Wheels Through Time Museum.

While Maggie has a lot to offer, it isn’t the only attraction in Haywood County. People visit Waynesville for its historic downtown; they come here for the Apple Harvest Festival, Blue Ridge Breakaway and more. Until Ghost Town in the Sky is up and running again, Maggie seriously needs to consider how to realistically improve its economic future.

The right thing for Maggie Valley to do is look at the bigger picture. If Maggie doesn’t come to the table with a unified voice of reason, it may find itself slowing down progress and hurting itself in the process.