Meetings called to discuss TDA tax hike

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Feb 21, 2013

Maggie Valley Aldermen and the Maggie Valley Lodging Association have both called special meetings to discuss Haywood County Board of Commissioners approving legislation to increase the occupancy tax from 4 percent to the state maximum of 6 percent.

The measure will require that the North Carolina General Assembly pass a local bill. No opposition to the tax increase was presented during a Feb. 18 commissioner meeting, but the two groups want to give people another chance to express any concerns they may have.

Maggie Valley Aldermen Phillip Wight and Mike Matthews called a Board of Aldermen meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 to discuss whether the additional tax would benefit the town.

MVLA sent out an email announcing it will hold a membership meeting at 1:30 p.m. today, Feb. 22, at the Holiday Diner to obtain input from the group to present at the Maggie Valley meeting.

Matthews said the issue needed to be discussed in more detail before the Board of Aldermen sign off on the increase through a resolution.

“I’ve heard a lot of reasons not to do it,” he said.

While he is not against the Tourist Development Authority’s concept of increasing visitors by improving sports complexes, he said that plan needed to be spelled out in detail before being sent to the General Assembly.

“It needs to be more structured — once you hand over loose control, (that money) could be used for other things,” he said. “Complexes would be beneficial to Maggie, absolutely, but we need more of a plan.”

Maggie Valley contains a large number of the county’s hotels and motels, but Matthews is worried that the additional 2-percent tax won’t benefit Maggie proportionately.

The Canton Board of Aldermen approved a draft resolution already, but the Town of Clyde has not yet approved the needed resolution.

Wight also is worried that the drafted legislation from the county won’t benefit Maggie Valley. Even though commissioners stated they had received little opposition, Wight said he knew people that were opposed to it.

“This is your opportunity if you have any questions or are concerned,” he said about the Monday meeting. “At this point there is something we can do. It’s easier to get a law passed than repealed.”

Sue Koziol, with MVLA said the association didn’t have a good turnout at a meeting held last week on the same subject and she was one of a few at that meeting who showed opposition to this tax. If members can’t attend today’s meeting, she encouraged them to let her know how they feel about the tax so she can present it to the Maggie Valley Aldermen on Monday.

“I have heard from some of our members already that are opposed,” Koziol said. “Business has been down, overall, for the past few years and the impact of additional taxes could be very detrimental for it making a rebound.”

If the 2 percent additional tax passes, hotel/motel owners will have to collect 13 percent total.

The draft legislation passed by the county states that the additional tax will be remitted to the TDA and distributed to further economic development in the county. According to the legislation, the TDA shall create a Tourism Product Development Fund for the additional 2 percent and the fund shall be used to “provide financial assistance for major tourism projects.”

A Product Development Committee shall be appointed by commissioners to review and evaluate project proposals and make recommendations to the TDA.